And Japan is still burning radioactive material!
Salt is of Sodium Chloride, and this is a fact that Arnie learned in basic high school chemistry. In this video, Arnie discusses salt water (comprised of sodium chloride) being exposed to neutrons at Fukushima and thus creating Sulfur 35. In the video Arnie said that Sodium absorbed the neutron to become Sulfur, he should have said that the Chlorine absorbed the neutron to become Sulfur. Maggie wishes he would use a teleprompter… oh well – anyone want to donate one?
Anyway, chemically speaking, the exact reaction is Cl35 (n,p) S35. Thanks to our viewers who shot us emails about this error!
Newly released neutron data from three University of California San Diego scientists confirms Fairewinds’ April analysis that the nuclear core at Fukushima Daiichi turned on and off after TEPCO claimed its reactors had been shutdown. This periodic nuclear chain reaction (inadvertent criticality) continued to contaminate the surrounding environment and upper atmosphere with large doses of radioactivity.
In a second area of concern, Fairewinds disagrees the NRC’s latest report claiming that all Fukushima spent fuel pools had no problems following the earthquake. In a new revelation, the NRC claims that the plutonium found more than 1 mile offsite actually came from inside the nuclear reactors. If such a statement were true, it indicates that the nuclear power plant containments failed and were breached with debris landing far from the power plants themselves. Such a failure of the containment system certainly necessitates a complete review of all US reactor containment design and industry assurances that containments will hold in radioactivity in the event of a nuclear accident. The evidence Fairewinds reviewed to date continues to support its April analysis that the detonation in the Unit 3 Spent Fuel pool was the cause of plutonium found off site.
Third, the burning of radioactive materials (building materials, trees, lawn grass, rice straw) by the Japanese government will cause radioactive Cesium to spread even further into areas within Japan that have been previously clean, and across the Pacific Ocean to North America.
And finally, the Japanese government has yet to grasp the severity of the contamination within Japan, and therefore has not developed a coherent plan mitigate the accident and remediate the environment. Without a cohesive plan to deal with this ongoing problem of large scale radioactive contamination, the radioactivity will continue to spread throughout Japan and around the globe further exacerbating the problem and raising costs astronomically.
Hi, I’m Arnie Gundersen from Fairewinds.
There are a couple of things today that I would like to share with you since we last posted. The first is a comment that was out on Russia Today and several other internet blogs, discussing the possibility of cracks and smoke and steam coming out of the ground at Fukushima. What they are claiming to have had occurred is that the nuclear core has melted through the containment and is now in the groundwater. I was asked by Russia Today to comment on that and I declined. I just do not think there is enough good solid engineering data to either support or refute it. It may be happening, but I did not think there was enough engineering data yet to make any conclusive remarks about it.
But it is interesting, the sensational issue of steam coming out of the ground has actually clouded much more important issues which can be substantiated.
The first of those was another report that came out last week from California. A group of scientists detected radioactive Sulfur 35 in the atmosphere. It occurred back in March, about two weeks after the Fukushima accident began. The press focussed on the fact that radioactive sulfur was detected in California, but the report held something that was much more important than that, that did not make the news. And that is, how did that sulfur get created? Let’s go back across the Pacific to Fukushima. When salt water is hit by neutrons, it creates sulfur. On the nucleus of a sodium atom in salt water hits a neutron, and it becomes a different atom called sulfur. That is the mechanics of it. But what the report showed is that 400 billion neutrons in a square meter were required in order to make the amount of sulfur that was detected in California. That is an enormous number of neutrons. No one asked, where did they come from?
I think the report from last week substantiates what I told you back on April 3rd. Way back then, there was enough evidence to indicate that the reactors had not really completely shut down at Fukushima.
Remember, when the tsunami hit, the reactors had been shut down for about an hour. The control rods had fallen into them and shut down all of the chain reactions. But it seemed as if there were recurring chain reactions after that. I think this new data from California substantiates what I had been telling you back in April: There were ongoing criticalities after the unit shut down.
The next thing that is important also occurred about two weeks ago. There was a meeting at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, where the NRC staff briefed the commissioners about what had gone on at Fukushima. We have posted the link to that on the side of the video here. What the NRC staff told them in about the first 60 pages of transcript, is that the nuclear fuel pools at Fukushima had not experienced much of a problem. Someone called in, there was a call-in line, and asked a very important question and I would like to read that to you now. The person was Mr. Ray Shadis from the New England Coalition. And he said this: “I was surprised to hear you say that the fuel in the spent fuel pool was not damaged. Press reports indicate that fuel particles up to a centimeter or more in size, have been found a mile or more from the spent fuel pools. And that is my question. Can you address the disparity?” So what Mr. Shadis was suggesting is, if the fuel pools were in good shape and plutonium is discovered a mile or two away, how could that happen?
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s response was troubling, to say the least. They said, Mr. Grove, again, on p. 61 of the transcript says, “Most of the deposition that has reported to date, appears to have come from inside the reactors.” And then two pages later on p. 63, a Mr. Hallahan says, “ascribing these dispersed radioactive materials in various forms on site, you know, it is most likely they were from the reactor cores rather from the spent fuel pool.” To my mind, that is more troubling than the hypothesis that the nuclear fuel pools released as plutonium.
You will recall back on April 26th, I postulated that there was a prompt criticality in the Unit 3 fuel pool and there is a lot of data to support that: the flame was on that side of the building, the height of the explosion. I postulated that that is what deposited the plutonium a mile or two off site. What the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is saying is much worse than that. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is saying that the reactors have breeched, and the containments have breeched, and liberated this plutonium, which has gone off site. I do not understand their position. Frankly, I do not think it is right. I still believe that it is the fuel pools that caused the plutonium to be deposited. But if I am wrong and it is not the fuel pools, in fact, the position of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is much worse. If the reactors have failed and the containments have failed causing this, we really need to seriously look at American reactor design.
The next thing I would like to talk about just briefly is that a tent is almost ready to be built over Unit 1 at Fukushima. That is not going to solve a lot of problems, but it is going to solve two problems. The purpose of the tent is to reduce the amount of radiation on site. The radiation inside that tent is still going to have to go somewhere, or else it is going to build up and become lethal. So what is going to have to happen to that radiation, is it is going to be exhausted up the stack. That is good for the workers, because it gets that radiation airborne at a much higher elevation and it is good for the surrounding communities. But it does not solve the problem of radiation releases from Fukushima. I wanted you to know that, when you see this tent that is being built over Fukushima 1, it does not solve the problem. It pushes the Cesium deposition further away from the site. It is important for the workers that they get less Cesium, but it is not, on a global basis, reducing the amount of Cesium that we are all receiving.
And that brings me to my final point. The deposition of Cesium throughout northern Japan is extensive. The Japanese are allowing that material to be burned if the concentration of radioactivity on anything that is radioactive is less than 8,000 becquerels per kilogram. What that means is that two pounds, about a kilogram, can be disintegrating at 8,000 disintegrations every second and the Japanese are allowing that to be burned. Here in the United States, that would be considered radioactive waste, and would have to be disposed of underground for thousands of years. But as long as it is less than 8,000 disintegrations per second, the Japanese are allowing that to be burned. Not only that, and this is actually more disconcerting, they are allowing blending. So if one sample had 24,000 disintegrations per second, and another two had none, they combine those, so that the three on average have 8,000 disintegrations per second and they are allowed to be burned. That has lots of serious ramifications. First, it is basically the material that has already come out of Fukushima and is on the ground, is now going airborne again. Deliberately.
So the towns around, and the areas around schools, school playgrounds that have been cleaned up from Fukushima, are now getting Cesium redeposited on them by the burning of the material. So the clouds of radiation from the different areas that are having fires in Japan right now, are re-contaminating areas that have been sampled as clean or low. And in fact now will see higher radiation. It does not stop just at the Japanese border, but of course continues across the Pacific into the Pacific Northwest as well. So by allowing the burning of material, we are basically recreating Fukushima all over again. We are sending into the air that which has been deposited on the ground. There is also some data that the ground deposition is running out into rivers and now into the ocean, relatively far from Fukushima. So while the focus has been on just the Fukushima site, in fact now, we are seeing radioactive rivers further away which are also contaminating the ocean.
Japan has a problem, a tough problem. But in order to solve the tough problem, first you have to recognize there is a tough problem. And this constant ignoring of the significance of the problem by the Japanese government is, in fact, making the problem longer, and eventually more costly, than doing it right the first time.
I think the Japanese need to recognize that they have a problem. And it is serious and they have to recognize that it is going to cost a lot of money to fix. But it is fixable if it begins with the concept that there is a serious problem that needs to be solved.