Tuesday, November 26, 2013

NRC documents show all nuclear material had been released from Fukushima reactors - or maybe not

A newly released document from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is a transcript dated March 16, 2011 concerning phone calls between US Officials who were dealing with the Fukushima crisis.  I've uploaded a copy to my Google Drive account in case the original copy on the NRC website is mysteriously removed.  My source of knowing about this comes from Michael Ruppert, in Facebook posts that I've embedded below.

A transcript of a critical part is here: NRC Transcript – TEPCO relayed information Unit 4 SFP Dry – Walls collapsed and incapable of holding inventory – Unit 3 “everything else gone” 

My reading of the transcript sounds like the speakers were in a state of confusion and dealing with conflicting evidence.  However, it clearly says that at that moment they believed the spent fuel pools in reactors 2, 3 and 4 were completely emptied, and perhaps unit 1 as well, meaning that there was a complete release of all nuclear material from both spent fuel pools.  In each case the spent fuel pools had a huge amount of highly toxic stuff in them.

According to fukuleaks.org the transcript was one of a group of transcripts released by the NRC in February 2012.

Enformable Nuclear News has a complete list of FOIA Documents Related to Fukushima Daiichi Reactor 4

A blog post from that time period discussing the documents says 
The transcripts document two things that this blog, and others, reported months ago.  First, the spent fuel pool at Fukushima Reactor #4 was never empty of water.  Second, remote sensing platforms, both aerial and in low earth orbit, were able to establish the status of the pool and that it had water in it.

If the pool had been empty of water, the infra red heat signature of the pool would have been a white hot spot visible even in the surrounding wreckage caused by a hydrogen explosion.  The Japanese government has declined to reveal their low earth orbit remote sensing data about Fukushima citing national security reasons.
He went on to connect the transcripts with the 50 mile exclusion zone ordered for all American Citizens, prohibiting approach by Americans to the reactor site.  With the documents it's clear the NRC made this order in reaction to reports that "the spent fuel pool at reactor #4 had lost all of its water and was spewing huge amounts of radiation as a result."  It's that part of the transcript that Ruppert is focusing on.  However, it's clear later in the transcripts, according to this report, that "NRC transcripts report that an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) flew over the reactor persuading NRC executive Chuck Casto, who was the NRC's man in Tokyo, that there was after all some water in the pool."

A Washington Post news report from Feb 2012 agrees with that blog post:
The transcripts also include lengthy discussions justifying NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko’s controversial decision to urge Americans within a 50-mile radius of the Japanese nuclear plant to evacuate. They show that the decision was based in part on an assessment, now thought to be false, that one of the Fukushima Daiichi spent fuel pools was dry and that its walls had, in the words of one official, “crumbled,”
A NY Times news report on the documents also focus on the confusion apparent in them.

The issue of water in the spent fuel pond is important because "If the pool had been empty of water, the infra red heat signature of the pool would have been a white hot spot visible even in the surrounding wreckage caused by a hydrogen explosion."  Further emptied fuel ponds would indicate the nuclear material had been released into the wild.

That's ultimately what we're all concerned about - how much of the nuclear material has been released, and just how big is the problem we're all facing?

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