Saturday, November 16, 2013

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: TEPCO Admits Total 80 Spent Fuel Assemblies Had Damages Before the Nuclear Accident, 70 of Them in Reactor 1 Spent Fuel Pool

Move over, three fuel assemblies with damaged/deformed fuel rods inside in the Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool! You're nothing.

According to Kahoku Shinpo, a Fukushima local paper, TEPCO admitted on November 15, 2013 that there are 70 fuel assemblies with damaged fuel rods in the Reactor 1 Spent Fuel Pool, located on the operating floor (top floor) of the reactor building whose air radiation levels are measured in millisievert/hour and sievert/hour (first floor).

There are also three such fuel assemblies in the Reactor 2 SFP, and four of them in the Reactor 3 SFP.

Total 80 spent fuel assemblies in the SFPs in Reactors 1 - 4 are damaged.

The damages had been there long before the March 11, 2011 accident, and TEPCO claims it properly notified the national government as they discovered the damages. But the company has come clean in public only now.

Kahoku Shinpo article below suggests that the oldest of such damaged fuels may have been there for 40 years in the Reactor 1 Spent Fuel Pool. (Reactor 1 started generating electricity in 1971.)

Reactor 1 at Fukushima I Nuke Plant is TEPCO's oldest nuclear reactor; it was entirely the project by General Electric of the US, a turnkey.

From Kahoku Shinpo (11/16/2013):

福島第1原発1号機 燃料震災前破損70体 全体の4分の1

Fukushima I Nuke Plant Reactor 1 has 70 fuel assemblies damaged before the March 11, 2011 disaster, a quarter of the total spent fuel assemblies [in the Spent Fuel Pool of Reactor 1]


It was revealed on November 15 that 70 fuel assemblies in the Reactor 1 Spent Fuel Pool at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant had had damages before the March 11, 2011 earthquake/tsunami.


The damaged assemblies are about one-quarter of the 292 spent fuel assemblies stored in the pool. Technologies to remove damaged fuel haven't been established, and there are worries that [the revelation] may negatively affect the plan to remove the fuels from Reactor 1 [SFP] starting 2017 and the decommissioning work in general.


TEPCO hadn't disclosed all the facts until November 15. The company says it had reported to the national government as required.


According to TEPCO, these 70 fuel assemblies had series of problems including leakage of radioactive materials from small [pinhole-size] holes [on fuel rods]. So the company removed them from the reactor and stored in a separate location inside the Spent Fuel Pool.


There are three damaged fuel assemblies inside the Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool, where the removal of the fuel assemblies will start on November 18. TEPCO has postponed the removal of the damaged assemblies as it is difficult to remove them in a normal manner.


Other than in the Spent Fuel Pools of Reactor 1 and Reactor 4, the Reactor 2 Spent Fuel Pool has three damaged fuel assemblies, and the Reactor 3 Spent Fuel Pool has four, making the total of damaged fuel assemblies 80. TEPCO will consider the measures such as building a dedicated container for transfer for these damaged fuels.


As to the reason why Reactor 1 has the largest number of damaged fuels, TEPCO says, "Reactor 1 [at Fukushima I Nuke Plant] is the oldest nuclear reactor of our company, and we hear that there were quality control issues when the fuel rods were manufactured and that there were many fuel rods with inferior quality. From Reactor 2 onward, much improvement was done on the fuel rods, and quality improved."


Reactor 1 at Fukushima I Nuke Plant is the first nuclear reactor for TEPCO, and it started the commercial operation in March 1971.

No major national newspaper has covered this story so far.


Anonymous said...

"... Technologies to remove damaged fuel haven't been established ..." and still aren't forty years later. Apart from the unresolved nuclear waste storage problem in general and unresolved or unresolvable problems generated by the occasional core meltdown, this is yet another example of how ill-equipped we are to successfully and responsibly handle nuclear technology. And all of it fully well-known to everyone in charge ... but let's build more NPPs. If this isn't insane, I don't know what is.

And how typical of Tepco (as well as the government) to spoon-feed the information: there are three ... no wait ... uhm, more like 80 damaged fuel assemblies. Despite all this "transparency," they are then surprised that the average Joe on the street is "radiophobic" and suspicious of those in charge as well as of the technology itself.

Anonymous said...

Thank god you're here to translate these articles!!!

Next question would be who was the manufacturer and where have these rods been used apart from Fukushima... They might be sitting in many spent fuel pools worldwide.


Frankly said...

"No major national newspaper has covered this story so far."

"A recurrent theme that cropped up a number of times in the US protests was the media’s coverage of the stricken nuclear plants in Fukushima Japan that were damaged in the 2010 earthquake-triggered tsunami.
"The radiation from that plant is going to reach us and affect us, not just in California but worldwide. How is it going to affect us, how is it going to affect our water, our food supply, and our way of life?" said one protester to KMPH Fox 24."

Anonymous said...

I have seen somewhere an article by some Indian researchers presenting a technology they developed to remove deformed fuel containers (rods? bundles?) using a laser cutter. Sorry I can't find the paper any more. The equipment was meant for "high burnup" reactors, I believe.
Could it be that a certain (small?) number of damaged rods/bundles is to be expected in normal operation (and yet the industry does not know how to handle them)?

Anonymous said...

Just a quick thought. Maybe tepco is lying again? Maybe lots of assemblies were damaged by the explosions, and they need another believable excuse? I mean ... in #4, a 90 degree bend in an assembly with roughly 70 fuel rods in it? Did the rats drive a truck over it? Wouldn't that mean the zirc cladding would have been broken since 1982? It sort of sounds all wrong to me.

Anonymous said...

If the damaged fuel rods have been sitting there for decades, their activity should be very low now, they should not need any cooling and can probably be safely removed after all other rods.

Paveway Mk IV said...

"...Just a quick thought. Maybe tepco is lying again?..."

Heh heh... Thanks, Anon. That made my day!

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