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U.S.: Spent fuel pool never went dry in Japan quake

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probably.maybe.possibly.. I thought it had been decided that this was a melt-through and not a meltdown.Oh, who to believe?

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Covering their asses about nuclear power safety, how could a body of people in other country actually have the ability to check this

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Americans typically make claims based on assumptions, so why should Fukushima be any different.

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The reporter appears to have no understanding of the difference between a cooling pool and a nuclear reactor. The fears are that, in addition to the melted fuel in reactors 1, 2, and 3, the fuel in the cooling pool on the top of reactor 4 may have been exposed. This article says there is some doubt whether the fuel in that pool was exposed. In the same paragraph the write refers to the fuel in this pool and then goes on to say "cooling water in the reactor core" was feared to have been exposed as if the fuel in the cooling pool and the fuel in the reactor cores were the same thing. They are not.

Regardless of whether or not the fuel rods in the cooling pool (not reactor core - there was no fuel in the core of reactor 4, it is all in the cooling pool because the plant was shut down for maintenance) the fuel in reactors 1, 2, and 3 was exposed and did melt.

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tokyokawasaki: Americans typically make claims based on assumptions, so why should Fukushima be any different.

Maybe he was making the point at the time that Japan was providing inadequate information, so that the only choice was to make worst case assumptions. 50 miles rather than 30km!

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Better to expect the worse and hope for the best. I still think he made the right call. Better to be safe than sorry. "Sorry", very popular word in Japan.

@Tokyokawasaki "Assumptions" do you even know what the word means to Americans? Don't go looking in your dictionary cause you won't find it. What it really means to assume is "To make an ASS out of U and ME". Native English speakers know this. We don't typically make claims based on assumptions.

This guy....Mr. Gregory Jaczko, he's doing his job. TEPCO wanted full command of this operation. They had to. If they required another country to come in and take over the operation it would have appeared as if they are unable to perform their duties. Their pride was on the line. We can't bet on someone's pride. We have to bet on safety.

With that said. it was right to assume the worst. Believe me, I'm sure Mr. Jaczko is happy to be wrong even though he'll take some flack for it. Saving lives is the primary goal in a disaster, nothing else. Anybody who thinks differently is already radiated.

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This Jackzo guy has been out of line from the get go. I can't believe some on here have been touting his info as credible for three months. After all this guy sat in front of Congress and told the US public that nuclear plants were absolutely safe, could take any earthquake or tsunami thrown at them. But wait!

Meanwhile, Charles Miller, a senior NRC executive who is leading a 90-day safety review of U.S. nuclear plants, told commissioners that current safety rules do not adequately weigh the risk of a single event that could knock out power from the grid and from emergency generators, as the quake and tsunami did in Japan. Safety experts until now have focused on the risk of losing electricity from the grid or from emergency sources, but not both.

And

Jaczko, 40, has been under fire in recent days, as the NRC’s inspector general released a report indicating that he repeatedly misled fellow commissioners about his efforts to stop work on a disputed dump for high-level radioactive waste.

Japan should listen to US officials exactly why again??? They mislead if not lie to the public just like the Japanese officials. Same stuff, different country.

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I appreciate Mr Jaczko bravado for making a stand in an environment gung-ho on nuclear proliferation. His 80km zone estimation has been proven correct and is shown by the amount of radiation people in this zone are currently exposed to.

It always surprises me when posters ignore the health of residents in Fukushima to criticize safety measures. It is poor judgement (for whatever twisted motivations.)

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It will happen again is all I have to say.

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OK So what if this guy was wrong about the storage pool at #4, lets not forget that the other reactors were going through meltdown/through shortly after the quake/tsunami.

IMO the yanks got it more right than wrong & the ole better be safe than sorry springs to mind, sadly wanna bet some close to the nukes will be sorry later in life............sadly it may happen

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U.S. officials welcomed the video evidence as “good news” and one indication that the meltdown at the Fukushima plant’s Unit 4 reactor “may not have been as serious as was believed.”

Be interesting to see what the "omg Japan is doomed!" folk have to say about this.

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U.S. officials welcomed the video evidence as “good news” and one indication that the meltdown at the Fukushima plant’s Unit 4 reactor “may not have been as serious as was believed.”

Good news? 3 other reactors have had meltthroughs which is worse than a melt down, nothing is "good news" about this.

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In the beginning nobody could get close enough to know anything. This was a risk management assumption. If he had been right, he'd be a hero. I would rather hear worst case scenario in a crisis versus the Japanese media who were spoon fed denial claims from the Japanese gov't. Because the Japanese got it all wrong too.

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recherche88:

" Regardless of whether or not the fuel rods in the cooling pool (not reactor core - there was no fuel in the core of reactor 4, it is all in the cooling pool because the plant was shut down for maintenance) the fuel in reactors 1, 2, and 3 was exposed and did melt. "

That is correct. And you are correct in saying that the article writer obviously is ignorant about the topic. But note that there is a huge difference between fuel melting in a container and in an open-air pool. If the spent fuel in No. 4 had melted, that would indeed have been catastrophic.

It is also obvious that the US has an environmental activist in charge of a commission that should give technical advice. And this is the result.

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This was a risk management assumption

No, it was a total failure to analyse data correctly and going public with it far too quickly which has now led to their back-tracking. They screwed up, nothing to do with risk management assumptions.

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What great news! This just adds to the people/government bodies we can blame for this and that! Yay! What fun for commenting!

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No, it was a total failure to analyse data correctly and going public with it far too quickly which has now led to their back-tracking.

Wait, so which is it? Information right now, RIGHT NOW, or wait until the situation is understood more. The problem with the former is obvious from this article - which is what I have been saying for 3 months - but so many are blaming the authorities for not enough information and not quickly enough.

I suppose in the end nobody is going to be satisfied with the response to the crisis.

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I suppose in the end nobody is going to be satisfied with the response to the crisis.

Yup, I agree.

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Information right now, RIGHT NOW, or wait until the situation is understood more

The Japanese government were saying water was in the pools, the Americans said no and made their view public. If they are going to contradict what is being said, they need to be sure about it first.

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Let's review the facts: On the debit side, this guy Jaczko made an inaccurate claim. On the positive side, 1) his recommendation erred on the side of caution, 2) the NRC has publicly announced its mistake after a review of further evidence, rather than dig its heels in further, and 3) the political system has demonstrated it is vigorous enough to raise questions about his fitness for the job. Overall, I'd say the American officials have done a better job than their counterparts in Japan, especially so since it is neither their reactor nor their population.

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his recommendation erred on the side of caution

This is true, but overall his comments erred on the side of complete hysteria, as did the French authorities.

Overall, I'd say the American officials have done a better job than their counterparts in Japan, especially so since it is neither their reactor nor their population.

The reports are not in from the Japanese side, so how can this be said? The political wheels turn slowly here.

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Smorkian,

Complete hysteria you say, well lets see they where fairly accurate with their 80km recommendation, they were pretty accurate when they said it was worse than the Japanese where saying. As for the wheels turning slow here, in regards to this they are that slow they are developing cobwebs

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Newsman: Facts are not just facts. It depends on how they are presented, and you seem to have done a good job of presenting the facts if your goal is to praise the US Government.

Here is another way of presenting the exact same facts that you raise: Jaczko, chairman of the NRC which is an independent agency of the US Government, made a false claim. His recommendation erred on the side of caution, but caused unnecessary mass confusion world-wide and in Japan, and also inflicted major financial and emotional strain on Americans who fled Japan based on the recommendation. The NRC has publicly announced its mistake after a review of further evidence, 3 months after the fact. The political system has demonstrated it is vigorous enough to raise questions about his fitness for the job, but has done nothing about it (Charles Miller, a senior official at NRC is leading the review of US nuclear power plant safety).

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Zaphod

"But note that there is a huge difference between fuel melting in a container and in an open-air pool. If the spent fuel in No. 4 had melted, that would indeed have been catastrophic."

Yes and the fuel remains exposed to the environment except for the water covering the fuel rods which are often referred to in reports as 'spent fuel' but are actually the fuel from the reactor along with other spent fuel rods which are in the pool for cooling as their decay heat gradually decreases. The Japan Industrial Atomic Forum (JAIF) itself reported low water levels in the reactor four fuel pool in the days after the accident and said damage was suspected to the fuel rods.

The fuel still sits on top of the damaged reactor four building which TEPCO is attempting to reinforce so that it can withstand possible aftershocks in the coming months/weeks.

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"...Americans typically make claims based on assumptions..."

Not the only assumption I can see on this forum.

"...a total failure to analyse data correctly and going public with it far too quickly..."

Wood for the trees anyone?

To be fair, it's good news about the spent fuel pool of the number 4 reactor, and it seems the news is better than we had reason to expect. on this narrow point.

However, to anyone with a degree in Physics (me included, thanks) it wasn't difficult to guess that TEPCO lost containment on 1, 2 and 3. Do people think those Caesium and Iodine isotopes detected outside occur naturally, or are just left kicking about the facility usually? Of course not, they only occur in the inner containment core or spent fuel pool. Obvious to me, and obvious to anyone else with a basic undergraduate knowledge of Physics, or even 2nd-year High School (UK). And yet, TEPCO claimed there was no evidence of a loss of containment on cores 1, 2 and 3. Are TEPCO stupid? By no means. They have some of the best physicists in Japan. I have no doubt of that.

In the grand scheme of things, maybe the NRC jumped the gun on the No. 4. spent fuel pool, but is this really significant compared to the other parts of the disaster and TEPCO's wilful blindness to what they must have realised had happened?

yildiray? Anyone?

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It's probably not wilful blindness by TEPCO. They aren't making their claims because they are stupid, they are making their claims because they are smart. It's their strategical response to maintain a facade of stability in the midst of crisis. To do anything else is to jeopardize public trust and thus their ricebowls. Large corporations focused on profit will cover up their mistakes and downplay the seriousness of any wrongdoing.

While netizens are increasingly well informed, there is still a large portion of people who will believe the media without doing their own research, and with TEPCO making official claims of situational stability, they can control and temper the public response.

These reports will be good material for analysis in the future, after the entire situation is truly under control. At the moment, we still have yet to tide the crisis over. While I do not support or condone officials making comments without proper proof and evidence (due to the possibility of causing unjustified panic and thus creating more casualties), Jaczko probably gave his most informed opinion at the time. Between TEPCO and the Japanese govt, it's easy, if not wise, to assume things are worse than reported.

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Complete hysteria you say, well lets see they where fairly accurate with their 80km recommendation, they were pretty accurate when they said it was worse than the Japanese where saying.

Spidapig24, I did say 'his' and not they. The problem seems to be with this hysterical bureaucrat, not with the US's limit (which seems to be reasonable, although not for travelers, just for people living there). This Jackzo doesn't seem to know anything about anything, though.

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However, to anyone with a degree in Physics (me included, thanks) it wasn't difficult to guess that TEPCO lost containment on 1, 2 and 3. Do people think those Caesium and Iodine isotopes detected outside occur naturally, or are just left kicking about the facility usually?yildiray? Anyone?

Not sure what that has to do with this discussion, but I'll answer...

The explosions, and resulting damage we saw, were caused by hydrogen explosions. These explosions occur OUTSIDE of both primary and secondary shielding units, but inside the reactor housing. As such, it is entirely possible for secondary containment to be damaged, but not as likely for the primary containment to be damaged (that would indicate a meltdown which, at that time, was not as certain as it is now).

I would bet my last dollar that the containment failure was due to a swelling of the zirconium on the containment. At this point, the zirconium reacts with the surrounding water which is rapidly heating up and causes problems for the suppression pool. This pool is used to prevent radiation escaping, but is OUTSIDE the core itself. However, once pressure is lost, it can't perform it's function properly and radiation can escape the system.

Hope that helps!

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Oh, and before someone questions why hydrogen explosions are unlikely to damage the primary containment: it's about 10inches thick!

One more point: The lack of any all-out fire so far suggest tepco are doing a very good job under a very tough situation. Should a fire break out, all bets are off and it will be the time that people need to look into available flights away from the country.

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And yet, TEPCO claimed there was no evidence of a loss of containment on cores 1, 2 and 3. Are TEPCO stupid? By no means. They have some of the best physicists in Japan. I have no doubt of that.

Although TEPCO did claim that there was no evidence of a loss of containment on cores 1,2, and 3, their containment efforts were conducted based on the assumption that the fuel rods within the inner containment have in fact melted. This was also reiterated by the government as early as March 13th.

「炉心溶融の可能性もあるとの前提で対応している」-Edano, March 13th.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

His 80km zone estimation has been proven correct and is shown by the amount of radiation people in this zone are currently exposed to.

No. The 80km was based on, as NRC's Randy Sullivan stated, "that no data from the site was used to determine the distance. Instead, he said, it was based on the potential conditions of the reactors..."

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

It's probably not wilful blindness by TEPCO. They aren't making their claims because they are stupid, they are making their claims because they are smart. It's their strategical response to maintain a facade of stability in the midst of crisis. To do anything else is to jeopardize public trust and thus their ricebowls. Large corporations focused on profit will cover up their mistakes and downplay the seriousness of any wrongdoing.

While netizens are increasingly well informed, there is still a large portion of people who will believe the media without doing their own research, and with TEPCO making official claims of situational stability, they can control and temper the public response.

vinnyfav - excellent post - quoted for truth.

From the article -

U.S. officials never have fully explained why Jaczko made the claim but said it was based on information from NRC staff and other experts who went to Japan after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

nigelboyJun. 16, 2011 - 11:21PM JST. No. The 80km was based on, as NRC's Randy Sullivan stated, "that no data from the site was used to determine the distance. Instead, he said, it was based on the potential conditions of the reactors..."

No. 80km was suggested by U.S. expert as a worst sererio estimate versus Japanese version of 20km, which is convervative estimate. Two countries have different ways of looking at the problem. However, since the radiation travels beyond their border, Japan should listen better for international concerns.

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However, since the radiation travels beyond their border, Japan should listen better for international concerns.

Of course, the radiation travels beyond the border. This is a no brainer. The question is how much radiation in each direction outside the border since this fluctuates based on surrounding topography and wind(speed and direction). Hence, there are varying figures within the 20km zone as well as high amounts beyond 20KM that are higher than those within.

While it's easy for us armchair commentators to just say to extend it beyond the 20km to be "safe than sorry", we're not responsible for evacuating the what amounts to possibily evacuating hundreds of thousands more people versus tens of thousands of people.

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nigelboyJun. 17, 2011 - 01:39AM JST. just say to extend it beyond the 20km to be "safe than sorry", we're not responsible for evacuating the what amounts to possibily evacuating hundreds of thousands more people versus tens of thousands of people.

If you didn't, there might be a long term health problem for tens of thousands of that goverment could've saved. J-goverment and TEPCO is trying to minimize huge financial burden by not relocating these people by using favorable news, but this might be a big mistake. If you look at geiger counter reading by a private citizen in a town of Date, which is located close to Fukushima, private citizen took a accurate periodic readings over extended time from the ground level and compared the results with the goverment reading that was taken from the top of the building. This was recorded about the same time and same location, but the reading was completely different. The ground level had higher readings and this might result in health problem that we still don't understand. Until some of these questions can be verified by experts, safe bet is to move farther away from the problem areas.

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Smorkian,

"Gregory Jaczko says that the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant warning in place by Japan is not sufficient. Jaczko, chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the US, said today that a 20-mile radius evacuation around the Fukushima Power Plant is not enough. Instead, Jaczko warned that Americans should stay at least 50 miles away from Fukushima. - 13th March" Now is this the type of hysteria you are refering too. And when l said they l was refering to the 2 parties you mentioned.

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Jaczko was right. 20km has been proven to be inadequate.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I wonder what the reaction on here would have been if TEPCO had caused significant panic by announcing that the pool had dried up, then three months later admitted that they were wrong. And in turn, what would have been said had TEPCO defenders argued that this was just one small error, that they 'fessed up to it, and that this means the Japanese system of public accountability works. Meanwhile, as the radiation death toll remains obstinately stuck at zero and with the injuries among civilians also hovering at nought, armchair pundits remain determined to uncover a nuclear catastrophe.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

This is, in deed, the reason to NOT run Government as a business. OR, to let businesses run utilities that endanger the Public.

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