Friday, May 4, 2012

How #Fukushima's Spent Fuel Pool Cooling Works

(or is supposed to work, considering numerous leaks...)

Spent Fuel Pools of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, particularly that of Reactor 4, continue to be in the news inside and outside Japan.

Dr. Hiroaki Koide of Kyoto University spoke in New York on May 3 and held a press conference on the status of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant and radiation contamination in Japan as he sees it.

He said about the Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool (I'm reading off from the Japanese transcript),

補強工事というものを施した、ということになっています。

So-called reinforcement work was done [on Reactor 4 SFP]. (My translation, not the translation at the press conference)


Then, one of my blog readers sent me a link to the post that has an audio clip of a radio program, in which nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen seems to be saying that TEPCO has been pumping water into the Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool from the top, the water drains to the basement, and TEPCO is pumping the water from the basement back into the SFP.

That's news to me, but then I haven't carefully checked how the cooling of the Spent Fuel Pools at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant has been done after TEPCO installed the temporary heat exchangers. So I decided to look for info, and here's what I've found.

Asahi Shinbun had an article on the temporary cooling systems for the SFPs back in June last year, and here's their simplified diagram of the system (missing the Skimmer Surge Tank):


Here's what TEPCO released on July 9, 2011 after they tested the pipes after installing the heat exchanger and the air cooling system (secondary cooling) for Reactor 4 SFP:


Here's TEPCO's diagram of the same system, released on April 16 this year after the Reactor 4 SFP cooling system stopped due to a leak (the information was released only in Japanese; I labeled "Heat Exchanger"):


As far as I can tell, it is basically a closed system though leaks have happened. The excess water from the Spent Fuel Pool goes to the Skimmer Surge Tank, which then is then goes through the heat exchanger to remove heat (0.9MW in the Reactor 4 SFP, as per TEPCO's press release above). The water is then pumped back into the SFP.

Back in February when the water level of the Reactor 4's Skimmer Surge Tank was dropping more than usual, TEPCO injected the water from the bottom of the Reactor Pressure Vessel (which is filled with water). That water went from the RPV to the Reactor Well to the SFP to the Skimmer Surge Tank.

Contaminated water in the turbine building basements in Reactors 1, 2, 3 and 4 gets treated through cesium absorption towers (Kurion or SARRY) and desalination systems, then pumped back into the Pressure Vessels but not to any of the Spent Fuel Pools.

But all my information is from publicly available sources (newspapers, TEPCO, etc.). Mr. Gundersen may have his own private sources of information that points to the collapsing Reactor 4 SFP or the SFP water boiling. (As far as I can gather, the temperature of the SFPs at Fukushima is below 30 degrees Celsius.)

51 comments:

Anonymous said...

@ laprimavera:

Are the links from the blog reader and the one next to last in the article to the interview with Gunderson the correct links? I've listened and listened, but I don't hear Gunderson say anywhere that the water is boiling in SFP 4, nor that the pool is leaking or that the water is pumped from the basement on top of the pool again. Did I miss it?
Thanks.
*mscharisma*

Anonymous said...

I wouldnt beleive a word from Tepco or the Japanese newspapers, they have no credibilty , i though Exskf knew better than that, Gundersen has been right from the start of this massive coverup..

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

@mscharisma, sorry, I got the first link wrong. It's been corrected (the one about SFP4 draining from the bottom". The link for boiling water (bottom) is the right one.

@anon at 6:53AM, in case you haven't noticed, most of the information (news, data) on this blog comes from the Japanese MSMs and TEPCO from the very beginning. TEPCO is still the only game in town when it comes to information and plant parameters at Fukushima, and that's what many experts base their observation or speculation on. That's the way it goes, so far, until the 3rd party is allowed to do their own measurements at the plant.

Anonymous said...

I did hear the clip from the radio interview and Gunderson does say it is "leaking" from the SPF4 to the basement and then they are pumping it back up in. That could just be what ExSKF is noting that somewhere it is "excess" water flowing down and not a crack in the pool itself. Gunderson is not always reliable in his assessments. But from what he said some scaremongers are now saying the pool is cracked and about to collapse. That is pure speculation at this point. It has probably been some excess water that they are pumping back up the entire time and since he does not specify that is a mistake on his part. I am a big Gunderson fan by the way. But maybe Gunderson knows something we don't but can't reveal his sources otherwise endanger their position, who knows.

Anonymous said...

Gundersen has been wrong in almost all his technical analyses (fuel damage in number 4 spent fuel pool, contaminated water from the plant finding his way to the Fukushima sewers, not knowing that Cs-134 has a half life of 2 years, the "hot particles" he talked about which in the end were just cesium instead of plutonium and other alpha emitters like he implied, and apparently also his idea that reactor number 3 suffered a nuclear explosion, based on all the debris found "inside" the pool instead of outside as would be expected in case of an explosion there.)

His perspective on the regulatory aspects of the industry is quite commonsensical, however. Not only for Japan but for the whole world.

Anonymous said...

Hot particle that Gundersen talked about was cesium? Is he really a nuclear expert?

Anonymous said...

As a 'nuclear expert' (whatever that means these days), I can tell you all here, that there is so little information coming out, that no one can make a reliable assessment on this situation.
Chernobyl was easy to assess - as the CCCP was transparent.
The Japanese are covering everything up. This blog (with its comments) provides the most up to date information that one can actually rely upon.
Also, it is my person opinion that the pool has ongoing issues, meaning it can't be emptied, and will one day soon, will collapse. I believe that there will be criticalities that will go on for decades.
Better to fix it now, than later. Either way - people are going to die. The best answer is to minimise the losses - by acting now - and cleaning up the sites.
So far - it is too little too late.

RutherfordsGhost

Anonymous said...

Here is how much of a "nuclear expert" Gundersen is...

@ 5 sec. mark

"Arnie is an Energy Advisor. He's got 39 years of nuclear power engineering experience. He is a former nuclear industry Senior Vice-President. He earned his bachelors and masters degrees in nuclear engineering. He holds a nuclear safety patent. He was a licensed reactor operator. During his nuclear industry career, Arnie managed and coordinated projects at 70 nuclear power plants, around the country...an independent nuclear engineering and safety expert, Arnie provides testimony on nuclear operations, reliability, safety and radiation issues to the NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission), Congressional and State Legislatures and government agencies and officials, throughout the United States, Canada and internationally. In 2008, he was appointed by the Vermont Senate President to be the First Chair of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant Oversight Panel. He has testified in numerous cases and for many different legislative bodies, including the Czech Republic Senate..."

@ 19:53 mark

Gundersen:

"...as far as Fukushima goes, one of the divisions I ran, [-->]built nuclear fuel racks for boiling water reactors identical to Fukushima[<--]...When we talk about the nuclear fuel pool and Fukushima, I can close my eyes and see what it looks like..."

EXSKF and everyone else, I recommend that you listen to this interview, in its entirety...

http://youtu.be/bVOvasvXMVM

Anonymous said...

>Chernobyl was easy to assess - as the CCCP was transparent.

lol

>The Japanese are covering everything up. This blog (with its comments) provides the most up to date information that one can actually rely upon.

The author of this blog already wrote in this same comment section that most of the information he is providing comes from the Japanese mass media.

Anonymous said...

Copypasta about Gundersen's resume:

Gundersen is frequently introduced as the “Chief Engineer” of Fairewinds Associates, an energy consulting company. It's a meaningless title that Gundersen bestowed upon himself. Fairewinds Associates is a company that consists of only two people: Gundersen and his wife.

Gundersen has advertised himself as having “39-years of nuclear power engineering experience” / “almost four decades experience in the nuclear power industry”. Very misleading, considering that Gundersen only worked in the nuclear industry between 1970 and 1990. He has worked full-time as a high school teacher since 1990.

Gundersen says he is a licensed nuclear reactor operator: “The only reactor that he was ever license to operate was a 100 Watt “critical assembly” at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. That reactor had no power generation ability – its thermal power was about as much as a single lightbulb. Operating it provides no experience at all in nuclear power plant operations or maintenance.”

Although Gundersen frequently talks about the health dangerous of various forms of radiation, he has no formal qualifications that make him an expert in that field.

Anonymous said...

@laprimavera: Thanks for the link correction. Much appreciated!
*mscharisma*

Anonymous said...

lolo

Anonymous said...

__________________________________________________
On the subject of qualifications, here's a reality check:

THE AUTHOR OF THIS BLOG (LAPRIMAVERA) HAS NO EDUCATION, NO WORK EXPERIENCE, NO TECHNICAL/ENGINEERING/RADIOLOGY BACKGROUND THAT QUALIFIES HIM TO ASSESS ANY ASPECT OF THE FUKUSHIMA NUCLEAR CRISIS.

Hence, all of the 'analysis' he provides here is third-hand, and third-rate, information. This blog post is a case in point: TEPCO issues a press release; the Japanese mainstream media then does a story that, uncritically, regurgitates TEPCO talking points; Laprimavera, then dutifully translates some of it into English, along with links to the TEPCO press release, and the news stories, which are presented as if they were the Gospel Writ.

Shortly thereafter, numerous anon remarks pop up in the comments section, saying how "reliable" and "accurate" Laprimavera is compared to: Gundersen, Alvarez, Kiode, Matsumara, Murata, etc -- all of whom are condemned as being vastly unqualified, ill-informed, and uneducated; while being solely motivated by the, allegedly, vast profits that ensue from freaking book sales!

Ex-Skf/Laprimavera has become a mouthpiece that serves the same corporate interests as TEPCO and the mainstream press corps. It's a joke. I keep coming back for the yuks.
__________________________________________________

Anonymous said...

Yeah. anyone that doesn't reinforce my idea that the Fukushima disaster is the end of the human race is working directly under Tepco orders. Long life the conspiranoia.

Anonymous said...

I spent 12 years as an IH for one of the largest nuclear plant operating organizations in the world and was directly involved with more than 8 refuels and dry cask storage shuffles for fuel from GE- Mark-I and Mark-II reactors. I was also directly involved with each and every exercise and drill required during that time period by the NRC regulations and INPO commitments. Afterwards, I worked for one of the largest decommissioning organizations in the world.
Mr. Gunderson is accurate in his assessment of the Fukushima catastrophe and has quite honestly given the world his strategy for when the SFP falls.
Fall it must, it is only a matter time. Anyone who knows these reactors knows this.
Resettlement options are being prepared for both residents of Japan, such as the negotiations for purchase of the Kuril Islands and for people within the US, witness the recent military drills in Minnesota, and the NDAA.

Anonymous said...

Gundersen's whatever credentials he claims to have is not the issue here but what he has been saying without any data or analysis backing it up. Some secret private source? If that's the case it is just as bad or worse than TEPCO's data.

Anonymous said...

Ok, you dopes that want to question Gundersen's credentials sound more like government idiots that want to side track the real issues here!

What Arnie has said since the beginning has been right on target! TEPCO is a lying bunch of slime just like all the governments around the World who are doing the same! Those are proven facts!

So spend less time wasting everyone's time posting bullshit! Who the hell are you idiots anyway?

I'm sure your credentials are the mail order type!

Anonymous said...

>What Arnie has said since the beginning has been right on target!

Let's see some examples of that.

Anonymous said...

@anon at 2:26, people like you make nuke skeptics look bad for talking trash.

Anonymous said...

To "anonymous", whatever Gunderson's imperfections, he is by far the most helpful and knowledgable expert out there and it is not true at all that he has been wrong in all his technical analyses. So you have been right in all your technical analyses? Who the F are you? The real question is why is the mainstream science community, that bunch of hopeless geeks, not speaking out and dispensing reliable information to the public? They are controlled by funding, they are geeks, they are dumb, etc. We need more Gunderson's not less, but yes, one does not have to agree with every word he says.

Anonymous said...

Some other anonymous moron is telling us that he spent time with nuclear reactors, that must explain the brain damage! Negotiations regarding the Kuril Islands! Har, the laughs just keep on coming. The internet is a wonderful place for spewing pure NONSENSE. Luckily most people are too dumb even to pay attention to that. Paid disinformation artists and just plain stupid people, plenty of them on the net.

Anonymous said...

Please someone ask Mr. Gundersen or Alvarez on what they base their assertion of "tilting" Reactor 4, other than low-rez photographs and "TEPCO lies".

Anonymous said...

Everyone is well aware that the nuclear industry pays people to linger on this website and post "counter arguments" and stir petty fights on this page. All one has to do is examine all of the comments and see repetitious interference. This interference even has a name "astroturfing" -- you can learn all about it-- just Google it on Wikipedia.

Average "pro-nuclear" citizens do not station themselves--like telephone operators--glued to "anti-nuclear" websites--morning, noon and night--and try to disrupt chatrooms. The fact of the matter is that average people who really thought Arnie Gundersen was "unqualified" or questioned his credentials, would not cry and complain about him--they would visit other websites.

When Japan's government was busy lying to their own citizens (which, later, Ex-Prime Minister Kan admitted) and TEPCO was telling the public they were not sure if there had been 3 full meltdowns, Arnie Gundersen was a hero and educated the public about the truth.

Gundersen has consistently been correct about issues that Japan's government, TEPCO and the mainstream media underreported or intentionally distorted.

It is obvious that building number 4 was weakened by the blast and even any large earthquake--has the capacity to level buildings in good standing. These nuclear power plants should never have been built--and certainly not 59 of them, in a country the size of California, on a fault line, next to an ocean, in a place that has multiple earthquakes per year...and TEPCO should have followed safety standards...but they did not.

Get spent fuel pool 4--and all other spent fuel pools--into dry cask storage, ASAP. Then, let's shut down every last nuclear plant on the planet, so this never happens, again. Corporate businesses have no right to risk entire countries' lives for the sake of profit.

Anonymous said...

__________________________________________________
Laprimavera, so you deleted the comment I made earlier today regarding your complete lack of professional qualifications to assess any aspect of the Fukushima nuclear crisis? Was it the form and/or the content that got it deep-sixed? I believe you should have let it be, if for no other reason than to give the appearance that you are tolerant of robust critique.

At any rate, what is your 'official' criteria for deleting/censoring comments? Just askin'. We know it's your blog and all.
__________________________________________________

Anonymous said...

Some of the photos show a crane at the side of the building of reactor 4, which gives the impression that the whole building is leaning one way.

In fact, the WHOLE structure is a problem because there is no shielding from ANYTHING.

We should be less than impressed with the temporary covers.
They need better engineers and better ideas.

Lucky the Tornado didn't hit them.

Anonymous said...

The water at the pool is shielding the fuel. And even if the building collapses or the pool goes dry, it's been more than a year since the accident.

If Gundersen, Koide, Alvarez or any other independent expert really had any solid info they would show how they think Tepco is falsifying data and they would base their analysis on some hard data or at least some estimation of the decay heat remaining in the fuel. This is something that any nuclear engineer can do just based on the time passed since the cores were defueled.

We all know that there is a fuckton of fuel bundles in each one of the pools, but they don't explain why they are suddenly so concerned about the situation at the pools, more than one year after the accident. We know the guys at the plant have reinforced the floor under the pool and removed debris form the upper floors, but even then, if the water at the pool didn't boil one year ago, if the building has not collapsed after dozens of aftershocks, typhoons and whatnot... I mean, is this just another horror story to get media attention, like the "China syndrome," which was supposed to be inevitable and would produce a massive explosion?

Anonymous said...

Erasing comments EXSKF?

Anonymous said...

Go to "change.org" and type:

"Fukushima Spent Fuel Pool 4 Risks U.S. Health and Safety"

Please sign and circulate this petition. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

What say you to this Natural News report?
http://www.naturalnews.com/035789_Fukushima_Cesium-137_Plume-Gate.html

Anonymous said...

I for one believe Gundersen is a well-meaning idiot.

This being said, TEPCO's long-term plan starts with the removal of fuel from SFP #4 - a pretty good indicator that said pool is urgent/important/easy enough to tackle in the short term (2 years plus was the timeline given iirc).

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous May 6, 2012 11:59 PM

Yes, EXSKF's Laprimavera is "erasing" comments that refer to his lack of professional qualifications and his derogatory attitude toward critics of the nuclear industry. Furthermore, he is "erasing" these comments without warning and without explanation. Let's see how long this one lasts.

Anonymous said...

@ anon 8:27 AM

You said: "I for one believe Gundersen is a well-meaning idiot". And YOUR qualifications in the field of nuclear physics would be WHAT, exactly? More to the point, are YOU even a "well-meaning" idiot?

Anonymous said...

@Anon May 6, 2012 10:43 PM

QUESTION #1): Do you think the ENTIRE international community of professional analysts and academics and senior political figures (i.e. Gundersen, Alvarez, Koide, Matsumara, Murata, US Senator Bob Wyden, etc.) are relying on TEPCO press releases, Japan government pronouncements, and the lapdog press for the TOTALITY of their information about the status of the Fukushima nuclear complex? Yes, or no?

QUESTION #2): Are you so naive as to believe that "official" sources have fully disclosed ALL available information on every aspect of the disaster? Yes, or no?

QUESTION #3): Are you incapable of imagining that there are back channel, inside sources of information which would be cut short if anybody went PUBLIC with too many specific details about the information thus derived? Yes, or no?

Cripes, a lot of comments around here are highly reflective of the shortsightedness that's evident in many of the editorials.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

>Anonymous said...

@Anonymous May 6, 2012 11:59 PM

Yes, EXSKF's Laprimavera is "erasing" comments that refer to his lack of professional qualifications and his derogatory attitude toward critics of the nuclear industry. Furthermore, he is "erasing" these comments without warning and without explanation. Let's see how long this one lasts.
May 7, 2012 8:46 AM

No. I don't have time to fish out comments from SPAM folder. How Google determines SPAM is beyond me, I stopped trying to figure out. And for comments like yours, maybe my effort to fish out is lacking. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

Something is really skewed when people feel sorry for the mentally dim pro-nuke nut, Karen Sherry Brackett, but dog instead on the unrelentingly reporting Ultraman does on Fukushima because he's/she's cautious about giving Arnie, or any other expert, too much credibility. Geeze.

Anonymous said...

@ Laprimavera 11:14 AM

I've seen comments disappear from the comments section after the fact. So has Anon at May 7, 2012 11:14 AM. The spam filter doesn't retroactively delete comments does it?

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

@anon at 11:48AM, yes it does. I've found many comments from days, even weeks ago somehow having ended up in SPAM folder after they were properly published. Not just anonymous comments but comments from people with ID. I've given up. There no help at Blogger forum, though people have been complaining. The only way out seem to be to not use the comment function offered by Blogger.

Anonymous said...

@arevamirpal::laprimavera May 7, 2012 12:20 PM

Good to be know. Thanks for getting back.

Anonymous said...

@May 7, 2012 10:09 AM:

Do you really think those six guys represent the "ENTIRE international community of professional analysts and academics and senior political figures"? Really? Those are just the experts you know, cause you are getting your information from conspiracy sites. What a small world you live in.

In any case, if those six guys have "back channels" and access to secret information, their analysis still lack any kind of hard data. Why would I believe anyone that does not try to back up what they say?

Anonymous said...

It's because it's "religion" to these people. To believe in these "experts" without question. Reality and real data or honest attempt to get the real data are just minor nuisance that they can't be bothered with.

Anonymous said...

The cooling and the actual temperatures in the molten corium in the basements are well below what few supposedly working thermometers are left. No one can get near them. If you want to observe what effect the rising heat has, you should look at wind map! It is 50 km radius of wind change around the plant! That's a lot of heat coming off a "cooled" group of melted reactors!

Anonymous said...

Anon, we are talking about the spent fuel pools.

Anonymous said...

__________________________________________________
@Anon May 7, 2012 4:15 PM

Pay ATTENTION genius, and do your f***ing homework. I listed several names in my foregoing remark as individual examples drawn from the entire/whole international community of professional analysts and academics and senior political figures who are assessing the Fukushima nuclear crisis: "i.e. Gundersen, Alvarez, Koide, Matsumara, Murata, US Senator Bob Wyden, etc.".

QUESTION: You want to know what "conspiracy sites" (your words) I was reading, in spring 2011, when I first saw Gundersen and Koide being repeatedly cited as credible, qualified sources: as bold "sceptics" who were "giving the Japanese people an "alternative" reality other than what's given by the government and the MSM". Where do you think those edifying quotes are from?

ANSWER: It was EX-SKF you twit! Go back and read it for yourself. Start with this series of stories about Koide, beginning on April 8, 2011: [http://ex-skf.blogspot.ca/search/label/Hiroaki%20Koide] When you're done with that, go back and read this series of stories about Gundersen, starting on April 3, 2011, when Laprimavera was still spelling the name as Gunderson: [http://ex-skf.blogspot.ca/search/label/Arnie%20Gunderson]

EX-SKF, and his readership, have quite evidently had a change of heart since last year. Nowadays Laprimavera is much more likely to be citing TEPCO and the MSM as credible sources, while treating critics of the nuclear industry (i.e. Gundersen and Koide) like crackpot, ignorant sluts.

QUESTION: I don't give a rat's ass if you don't like the names on my list -- but, tell us, what names are on YOUR list of trusted "nuclear experts", and at what sites did you first encounter them?
__________________________________________________

Anonymous said...

@anon above, so? Experts are not to be "trusted", but to be listened to and analyzed to see if what they say make sense. If you want to worship them instead, go ahead but don't force others with brain cells left to follow you.

Koide was basing his "recriticality" argument on TEPCO's first data on radioactive chlorine. Gundersen was using TEPCO and public videos to assert there was no water in Reactor 4 SFP.

These days, I don't know what they base their speculation on. Their fantasy I suppose. Koide now joined the chorus of "Reactor 4 is tilting". So, just be happy, and leave the despicable site as this one written by someone with no education, no degree, no knowledge, as you say, based on .. well, nothing, just like your experts. We'll be missing you, but bye.

Anonymous said...

anon at 9:27am, don't you feel stupid?

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

My very first post on the Fukushima nuclear disaster last year was a quote from a Japanese MSM, Nikkei Shinbun, reporting the possibility of core melt as announced by NISA.

Anonymous said...

CORRECTION to typo in my above comment, May 8, 2012 1:36 PM. Last paragraph: should read Unit #4 "SFP".

Anonymous said...

__________________________________________________
@arevamirpal::laprimavera May 8, 2012 11:12 AM

The REAL STORY here is that YOU are in a full-blown PANIC because: an international coalition of nuclear analysts, academics, and government officials is now unified and publicly airing their intense concern about the colossal nuclear payload of the Unit 4 Spent Fuel Pool; which is reportedly perched, a hundred feet in the air, inside a building that was laid to ruin. Moreover, this coalition is now determined to mobilize the United Nations to intercede and compel TEPCO, and Japan's Government, to expedite the process of mitigating the numerous problems at the Unit 4 SFP.

Here's the question, Laprimavera: WHY DO YOU HAVE SUCH A HUGE PROBLEM WITH THIS INTERNATIONAL EFFORT REGARDING UNIT #4 SFP? DOES IT NOT BODE WELL FOR YOU IN SOME PERSONAL WAY?

Why are you now doing your level best to ridicule, and discredit, all of the individuals in this coalition -- especially in view of the fact that you previously cited many of them without hesitation, and without criticism, right up until they made a stink about the Unit 4 SFP.

Do you believe, for a moment, that YOU are the anointed soul who is supremely, and uniquely, qualified to fully, and selflessly, assess what is happening there? I think not.

In conclusion then: WHAT IS YOUR INVESTMENT IN COUNTERING THE ASSESSMENT THAT UNIT #4 SFP IS A REAL AND PRESENT DANGER? WHAT DOES IT ALL COME DOWN TO FOR YOU?
__________________________________________________

Anonymous said...

@Laprimavera, are you more afraid of TEPCO's nationalization than you are of unit 4's spent fuel pool?

Anonymous said...

I agree. EXSKF must explain why they have reversed their opinions on SFP 4. There does seem to be an agenda to dissuade any outside involvement in getting the spent fuel into dry cask storage. Why?

We expect that sort of behavior form the peanut gallery nay-sayers employed by the nuclear industry, who troll the chat rooms of this site...but we would like an explanation to why this site has suddenly started aligning its self with these astroturfers.

EXSKF, please answer us. Why are you down playing the threat of Spent Fuel Pool 4 -- you are the only (once?) responsible website doing this.

Anonymous said...

*from

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