Skyshine – Nuclear Expert Whistleblower Breakdown of What Is Really Happening At Fukushima

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Arnie Gundersen is a nuclear expert and industry whistle blower providing us with in depth updates on the situation at the Fukushima nuclear reactor in japan.

This is the kind of information that experts on the mainstream corporate media should be discussing instead of just saying “Move along folks, nothing to see here!”

Bio:

Arnie is an energy advisor with 39-years of nuclear power engineering experience. A former nuclear industry senior vice president, he earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in nuclear engineering, holds a nuclear safety patent, and was a licensed reactor operator. During his nuclear industry career, Arnie managed and coordinated projects at 70-nuclear power plants around the country. He currently speaks on television, radio, and at public meetings on the need for a new paradigm in energy production. An independent nuclear engineering and safety expert, Arnie provides testimony on nuclear operations, reliability, safety, and radiation issues to the NRC, Congressional and State Legislatures, and Government Agencies and Officials throughout the US, 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 before many different legislative bodies including the Czech Republic Senate. Using knowledge from his Masters Thesis on Cooling Towers, Arnie analyzed and predicted problems with Vermont Yankee’s cooling towers three years prior to their 2007 collapse. His Environmental Court testimony concerned available and economically viable alternatives to cooling towers in order to reduce consumptive water use and the ecological damage caused by cooling tower drift and heated effluents. As the former vice president in an engineering organization, Arnie led the team of engineers who developed the plans for decommissioning Shippingport, the first major nuclear power plant in the US to be fully dismantled. He was also an invited author on the first DOE Decommissioning Handbook. Source term reconstruction is a method of forensic engineering used to calculate radiation releases from various nuclear facilities after nuclear incidents or accidents. Arnie is frequently called upon by public officials, attorneys, and intervenors, to perform source term reconstructions. His source term reconstruction efforts vary. Arnie has calculated exposures to oil workers, who received radiation exposure while working on wells. He has also calculated radiation releases to children with health concerns, who live near a nuclear facility, like the one that carted radioactive sewage off-site and spread it on farmers’ fields. Finally, he has performed an accurate source term construction of the radiation releases from the Three Mile Island nuclear accident. Also involved in his local community, Arnie has been a part-time math professor at Community College of Vermont (CCV) since 2007. He also taught high school physics and mathematics for 13 years and was an instructor at RPI’s college reactor lab.

Zero Hedge Writes:

Skyshine

Here’s the newest video by nuclear expert, Arnie Gundersen.  For previous videos, and regular updates, visit Arnie’s site: Fairewinds Associates, Inc.

In the video below, Arnie shows and discusses the problem with the fuel rack in reactor building 4 being exposed to air. You can see in the video, the “boxes,” the at top of nuclear fuel racks. Those are supposed to be under 30 feet of water. But they are not, they are in air. So at least the top of the nuclear fuel is exposed to air, perhaps more. The water that is being sprayed into the pool is creating steam, but not filling the pool.

Water is for the purposes of both cooling and shielding. The lack of water means the nuclear fuel is unshielded. Its gamma rays are rising into the sky and bouncing off air molecules through a phenomenon called “skyshine.” (That sounds prettier than it is – “scattered radiation of a primary gamma radiation source generated by aerial dispersion.”) The gamma rays rain back on the site as background radiation, which is much higher than normal, making work on the refueling pool potentially lethal. In addition, the nuclear fuel is extremely hot and the plutonium inside can become volatile. The fact that the nuclear fuel pool doesn’t have water means there might be a clean path for the heavy elements to escape from the building. Arnie would recommend increasing the evacuation zone. – Ilene

First Update For March 31st

New Images Reveal Nuclear Fuel Rack Exposed to Air

Hi, I’m Arnie Gundersen from Fairewinds Associates. It’s Thursday, March 31st. You’ve probably noticed that this is the second update of the day. Normally I update you every other day, however some disturbing video has shown up on Ustream that I wanted to talk to you about.

First off, a little bit about my background. I used to be an executive in the nuclear fuel industry, and one of the divisions I ran built nuclear fuel racks for boiling water reactors, so nuclear fuel racks are something I that know a little bit about.

Nuclear fuel racks look like this. This is [a video of] square cans at the bottom of what is essentially a swimming pool. Each can is designed to handle one nuclear fuel bundle. That’s the glowing thing you see sliding into the can. The wrapper around those cans has boron in it, and that’s designed to prevent a nuclear chain reaction from occurring in the pool. You don’t want a chain reaction to occur in the pool; that should occur in the reactor.

What happened at Fukushima was, when the whole site lost power, at Fukushima [Unit] 4, there was no reactor operating. All the fuel had been removed and was in the fuel pool. Normally, the pools are cooled; however, they lost power, so there was no longer any cooling. It appears that the pools boiled dry. The roof blew off the building. That indicates that hydrogen was built up from something called a zircoloid-water reaction that had to occur at temperatures over twenty-two hundred degrees [Celsius] (2200 degrees C). After that, the Fukushima staff has been attempting to pour water into that reactor. You can see in this picture that, up the side of the building is a hydraulic device, it’s actually designed for pumping concrete, that is pumping water up and over the roof and pouring water into the nuclear fuel pool.

This picture is undated, but when it was taken, it clearly shows that there is no water in the pool. If you look, there’s a green, a long, green device. That’s the refueling bridge. Normally that glides along on rails above the pool, and the pool is that crystal-clear water that you’re used to seeing. Well, after the explosion it has collapsed and is lying in the pool. Between seconds thirty-three and thirty-seven on this video you can see little boxes. The little boxes are just to the left of that green bridge. The boxes are in air. Those boxes are the top of nuclear fuel racks. They’re supposed to be under thirty feet of water. They’re not.

What that means to me is a couple things. First off, the top of the nuclear fuel is exposed. Perhaps all the nuclear fuel is exposed, but certainly the top is. You can see steam coming up, but not from the top of the fuel. [From] down further in the cavity there is steam coming up. So, the water that they’re spraying in is hitting the nuclear fuel and creating steam, but it’s not filling that swimming pool. The water has two purposes: cooling, but also shielding. That means the fuel is unshielded. That [unshielded fuel] emits gamma rays, and the gamma rays go up into the sky, bounce off of air molecules through something called “sky shine,” and rain back down on the site as a background radiation that’s much higher than normal. That makes work on the site really difficult, and it makes work on that refueling pool almost lethal.

The other thing it means to me is that the nuclear fuel itself is extraordinarily hot, and the plutonium inside can become volatile. I spoke yesterday, in the [I mean] earlier update [today], about cerium being discovered offsite and plutonium being discovered, and the fact that the nuclear fuel pool does not have water in it, to me, indicates that it might be a clean path for those heavy elements to be escaping from the building and being discovered offsite. I would recommend, based on this, that the evacuation zone should be pushed back further because of these heavy elements being released, as well as the cesium that was also in those racks. It does have some serious consequences. As this situation develops, and perhaps, more clear pictures are available, I will update you again.

Second Update

Update on Fukushima: Discussion of High Level Radiation Releases and the Previous “Worse Case Senario” Planned for by The Industry

Hi, I’m Arnie Gundersen from Fairewinds Associates. Today is Thursday, March 31st, 2011.

In the last two days the Fukushima plant has kind of been stable, but precarious. Kind of like balancing on the edge of a cliff, but not going over and not being pulled back either. I wanted to give you my opinion of a couple of the more significant pieces of information that have come out in the last two days. In broad terms, there are very large amounts of liquid still being released into the environment, very large amounts of gasses still being released into the environment. The other thing is that no one ever envisioned this type of recovery from an accident, even a month ago, before Fukushima happened.

Let’s talk about the liquid and gas releases. The New York Times is reporting that two hundred tons of radioactive liquid are being poured into the nuclear reactors and the fuel pool at Fukushima every day. Well, where is it going? If it’s going in, it’s coming out. It’s coming out two ways: It’s coming out as radioactive steam and it’s coming out as radioactive water. If you’re putting two hundred tons in, two hundred tons is coming out. In engineering terms, that’s called “feed and bleed:” what you’re feeding in as clean water is bleeding out as radioactive steam and radioactive water. There are some indications offsite that the releases are very large. The fuel is clearly damaged, significantly damaged, and of course the releases are going to be large with two hundred tons of releases every day.

That boils down to a couple things. The IAEA, that’s the International Atomic Energy Agency, has found that twenty-five miles away from the reactor there’s been deposition of radioactive material to the tune of two million becquerels per square meter (2,000,000 Bq / Sq m). Now, what does that mean? A square meter is about three feet by three feet, a meter by a meter, and two million becquerels is two million disintegrations every second being deposited in roughly three feet by three feet. That’s well above what the IAEA would say you should evacuate if the levels are that high. So, there are places out well beyond where the Japanese are evacuating that should be evacuated based on the deposition of radioactive materials nearby.

To give you an example: at Chernobyl, the exclusion zone was five hundred thousand becquerels (500,000 Bq). This is four times higher than Chernobyl. Now, there are different isotopes, and some of these will decay away, and the Chernobyl ones are longer lived, but these are very serious concentrations of radioactivity being deposited on the ground from the radioactive steam coming out of the plant.

The next thing is the water. We’ve seen incredibly high concentrations in the radioactive water in trenches onsite. There are indications that the survey meters simply can’t read high enough to measure the amount of radiation coming off the water. Another indication is what’s in the ocean. Offshore radioactive readings in the ocean have gone up and are now over three thousand times the standards that are routinely expected. That’s not coming from the air; the ocean’s too big to be polluted by what’s coming out of the airborne releases. It’s clearly leaking from the trenches into the ocean. They haven’t found the leak, but the only source of quantities of radioactive material large enough to pollute the ocean has got to be leakage from these trenches. So, it’s two hundred tons of liquid going in, and two hundred tons of liquid going out. It’s reasonable to expect that the ocean is going to be polluted because it’s clearly leaking in.

There’s one other interesting reading that was detected onsite. There are several [of] what’s called heavy elements that are being detected on the ground. We talked about plutonium in the last video, but there are some other ones too, something called cerium, which is also one of these that doesn’t easily go volitale. That it’s on the ground also indicates significant fuel damage, most likely from the fuel pool in unit four.

It’s important to realize that this feed and bleed operation that’s going on was never anticipated a month ago by anyone who every planned to mitigate an accident. A month ago the worst accident that was ever assumed was [that] one percent (1%) of the fuel in one reactor melted. We’ve got seventy percent (70%) of the fuel in three reactors melting. A month ago, we thought the containment would leak at [a rate of] half a percent per day; now we know the containment is leaking [at a rate of] much more than half a percent per day. A month ago, we thought the radioactivity would go high up a stack, and in fact we’re finding the stacks don’t work and the radiation is on the ground. The net effect of this is that in the Fukushima vicinity exposures are probably five hundred to a thousand times higher than anticipated in the accident analysis that was reasonable a month ago.

Also, a month ago no one ever envisioned the possibility of a fuel pool burning. That’s still a possibility. Brookhaven National Labs, back in 1997, did a study that said that the consequences of a fuel pool burning would be a hundred and thirty-seven thousand (137,000) fatalities from lung cancer. That’s a serious study, and it’s a number that we still need to be concerned about.

The difference between what’s happened and what we thought would happen is that everyone believed that the containment would contain, and it’s not. The plan was that what was in the reactor would get recirculated in the reactor and none of that material would come out into the ground water. These exposures are much, much higher as a result of what’s happened at Fukushima.

Thank you very much, and I’ll get back to you as more develops.

 

Categories: FUKUSHIMA

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