Fukushima fiasco: Tepco's risky removal of radioactive fuel could set off uncontrolled chain reaction; emergency delay invoked

Monday, November 18, 2013
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
Editor of NaturalNews.com (See all articles...)
Tags: Fukushima, fuel rods, inadvertent criticality

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(NaturalNews) The Tokyo Electric Power Co. announced it is delaying the relocation of fuel rods from its crippled plant reactors. Work was originally scheduled to begin today due to the fact that fuel rods remain highly vulnerable in the damaged storage pools. Right now, Fukushima is just one earthquake or tidal wave away from structural collapse, causing a catastrophic release of radioactive fuel directly into the atmosphere.

Moving the fuel rods a wildly risky proposition, as the fuel rods must be extricated from their operating matrix containing coolant water and control rods that "smother" runaway nuclear reactions. Absent these safeguards, the removal and transport of fuel rods is inherently hazardous.

"New video footage from a robot has revealed new leaks within the damaged reactors meaning the rods now can't be taken out as planned," reports Euronews. "One of the fuel assemblies was damaged as far back as 1982 when it was mishandled during a transfer and is bent out of shape."

Euronews goes on to quote Kazuaki Matsui, the executive director of Japan's Institute of Applied Energy as saying "It's very difficult to remove a spent rod because parts of the wall and the bottom of the reactor are all melted. We've never had to deal with this before so that adds to the complication."

Fuel rod removal may set off runaway meltdown reaction that's open to the air

Arnie Gunderson of Fairewinds confirms this activity is extremely risky:

[Fuel rod removal] is fraught with danger, including the possibility of a large release of radiation if a fuel assembly breaks, gets stuck or gets too close to an adjacent bundle. That could lead to a worse disaster than the March 2011 nuclear crisis at the Fukushima plant, the world's most serious since Chernobyl in 1986.

All that is required for a runaway nuclear meltdown is for one of the fuel rods to be dropped or accidentally placed too close to other fuel rods. Removing these fuel rods safely is a lot like trying to play the game "Surgery" via a remote-controlled robot, under water, in a murky haze filled with twisted pieces of metal.

In other words, it's almost impossible to pull this off without error.

Tepco isn't a name that inspires confidence

Keep in mind that this fuel rod extraction and relocation operation is being carried out by Tepco, a company that has already demonstrated stunning incompetence, corruption and deception in the way it has handled the Fukushima situation so far.

Yet Tepco is seeking to move thousands of fuel rods without damaging, dropping, breaking or misplacing a single one. The odds against this happening without incident are astronomical. You'd have better luck playing a drunken game of Russian Roulette with 5 out of 6 chambers loaded (instead of just one).

That's because Fukushima reactor No. 4 currently has 1300 fuel rods being stored in a leaking pool held 150 feet above ground. There are 6,300 fuel rods in a nearby storage fuel that also need to be moved. In all, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant holds 11,400 fuel rods, any one of which could break and send the entire situation spiraling out of control.

"Containing radiation equivalent to 14,000 times the amount released in the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima 68 years ago, more than 1,300 used fuel rod assemblies packed tightly together need to be removed from a building that is vulnerable to collapse, should another large earthquake hit the area," reports Reuters UK.

"No one knows how bad it can get, but independent consultants Mycle Schneider and Antony Froggatt said recently in their World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2013: 'Full release from the Unit-4 spent fuel pool, without any containment or control, could cause by far the most serious radiological disaster to date.'"

The potential radiation release, it turns out, is many multiples worse than Chernobyl plus both WWII atomic bombs combined.

The idea that Tepco is going to use robotic cranes to somehow remove all these fuel rods without damaging, breaking or misplacing any of these rods seems almost impossible. Many of the rods are already damaged, and some are fatally entangled in twisted scraps of metal that will prevent them being removed without damage.

One wrong move and Fukushima could poison the entire northern hemisphere with deadly radioactive plutonium and uranium isotopes with half lives of millions of years. In the worst case, it could turn the soils into poison across nearly half the planet, causing much of the northern hemisphere to be uninhabitable by humans.

"Risky Repair of Fukushima Could Spill 15,000 Times the Radiation of Hiroshima, Create 85 Chernobyls," reports Truth Out.

"If the whole site blows, [it] could mean the release of 85 times as much radioactive cesium into the air as was released at Chernobyl."

Some people I know are already seeking to move to New Zealand and other South American destinations, just in case Tepco screws this up and contaminates literally half the planet.

"Inadvertent criticality"

The key situation to avoid in all this is so-called "inadvertent criticality." This is where fuel rods being moved or transported are accidentally placed too close together, setting off an "atomic chain reaction" which cannot be stopped.

Fuel rods, of course, generate intense heat through the process of atomic decay. This is how they are able to heat water that drives power-generating turbines. But if they are allowed to get too near each other without the aid of circulating coolant water, they can achieve "atomic criticality" -- a runaway, uncontrollable nuclear meltdown in the open air (i.e. without the usual containment building).

Tepco claims to be considering the risks involved in such an operation, but Tepco is also the same company that stupidly agreed to build a nuclear power plant on the coast of a region with a massive fault line, practically guaranteeing a huge tidal wave would strike the facility sooner or later. Thus, Tepco's track record on foreseeing possible future threats is considerably less than we would hope to encounter when the future of human civilization is on the line.

"Letting Tepco Clean Up Fukushima Is Like Letting a Murderer Do Brain Surgery On a VIP," reported Washingtons Blog in August. It goes on to say, "Tepco knew right after the 2011 accident that 3 nuclear reactors had lost containment, that the nuclear fuel had 'gone missing', and that there was in fact no real containment at all. Tepco has desperately been trying to cover this up for 2 and a half years ... instead pretending that the reactors were in 'cold shutdown'."

"Ex-Fukushima Worker: High risk they'll break fuel rods in Unit 4 pool," blares Enenews.com, adding to the consensus that attempting to move these control rods is as likely to be successful as trying to enroll in an affordable health insurance plan on Healthcare.gov.

In both cases, what we're talking about might be crudely described as a "s##tstorm of incompetence." But with Fukushima, it's not just the kind of incompetence we normally get from government -- wasting money, lying to the public and destroying the economy -- it's a far worse kind of incompetence that could alter the future of human civilization in a disastrous way.

End the age of nuclear energy before it ends us

If there was ever a case study for the disastrous risks to humanity posed by nuclear energy, Fukushima is it. Fukushima undeniably proves that nuclear energy is too dangerous for our planet and that the nuclear engineers who design and build these facilities are too stupid to trust with our collective lives.

When a doctor is stupid and arrogant, it only results in his own patients getting killed from toxic prescription drugs or failed surgeries. But when nuclear engineers are stupid and arrogant, it puts all our lives at risk.

It would be far better to burn coal and deal with the mercury than depend on nuclear energy and have to deal with highly radioactive uranium or plutonium. Better yet, if inventors of so-called "over unity" devices were allowed to live instead of being killed off every time they announce a new invention, we might already be sitting on some sort of renewable clean energy technology that taps into zero point energy instead of exploiting the radioactive decay of highly toxic elements.

There's no question that human civilization requires energy to survive, yet there are many energy options that are safer, cleaner and more renewable than nuclear energy. Even so-called "cold fusion" -- now researched around the world under the name "Low Energy Nuclear Reactions" -- offers potential for large-scale water heating that could be harnessed for power production.

Yet the scientific status quo feels so threatened by cold fusion research that they managed to shove it into the "fringe" category and thereby delay its commercialization for decades (the junk science, politically-motivated attacks on cold fusion began in 1989 and continue to this day).

Energy has always been about controlling humanity, not serving it

Energy has always been political, you see. It has never been about serving humanity. Instead, it has always been about monopolistic control of society through the restriction and domination of energy production.

To serve their own profit interests, energy industry insiders would put the entire world at risk. And they have, over and over again. Fukushima is not so much an example of failed science as it is failed ethics of the human race, a schizophrenic hive of selfish creatures who compromise the future of their entire civilization in order to make a short-term buck for themselves.

What do energy, medicine, finance and conventional agriculture all have in common? They are all dominated by the most criminal corporations in our planet, all of which seek to maximize their own selfish profits even at the expense of destroying humanity in the process. Tepco, Monsanto, the Federal Reserve, Merck, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer... need I go on?

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About the author: Mike Adams (aka the "Health Ranger") is the founding editor of NaturalNews.com, the internet's No. 1 natural health news website, now reaching 7 million unique readers a month.

With a background in science and software technology, Adams is the original founder of the email newsletter technology company known as Arial Software. Using his technical experience combined with his love for natural health, Adams developed and deployed the content management system currently driving NaturalNews.com. He also engineered the high-level statistical algorithms that power SCIENCE.naturalnews.com, a massive research resource now featuring over 10 million scientific studies.

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In 2013, Adams created the Natural News Forensic Food Laboratory, a research lab that analyzes common foods and supplements, reporting the results to the public. He is well known for his incredibly popular consumer activism video blowing the lid on fake blueberries used throughout the food supply. He has also exposed "strange fibers" found in Chicken McNuggets, fake academic credentials of so-called health "gurus," dangerous "detox" products imported as battery acid and sold for oral consumption, fake acai berry scams, the California raw milk raids, the vaccine research fraud revealed by industry whistleblowers and many other topics.

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