I think an important clue is in unit 4; the unit that was not in operation at the time of the earthquake and tsunami but blew up anyway. The NRC maintains to this day that a breach of the primary containment is impossible even though we have three possible examples of it happening at Fukushima Daichi in units 1,2,3; we know that at least one of them is leaking core contamination through primary containment into the ground. The thing that is interesting about unit 4 is that they shutdown the reactor and took the partially used nuclear fuel out of the reactor vessel and primary containment and put it in the unprotected spent fuel pool. Now, why is that OK? We must conclude that primary containment is meant for fuel that is undergoing criticality and is unnecessary for fuel that is not critical. Fukushima introduces a number of contradictions to these operational processes.
First, fuel outside of the containment caused an explosion and release radioactivity and there is reason to believe that there was a “critical rearrangement” which is double speak for “small atomic explosion” in the spent fuel pool of unit 3, whence the different kind of explosion and massive damage to unit 3; it seems a hydrogen explosion can provide inertial confinement; who knew? The point is there was no primary containment around this fuel because … we are left to come up with our own guess … it is inconvenient? Impossible to run a plant any other way? What engineer would say this is OK? I would like to hear one explain it to me; right here in this forum: why is it OK to remove used fuel from containment unless it has cooled for at least five years? I am an engineering manager; OK software engineering manager but this is just the kind of thing that management has to push engineers on. How can hot extremely radioactive fuel be taken safely out of primary containment? EVER? The answer is not a surprise when you think about it. The answer is not an engineering answer it is an operational requirement that the fuel be removed or these reactors cannot be practical. What? They put fuel in the reactor and leave it there five years after the reactor shuts down until it is cool enough to store safely? It takes five years of reactor down time to refuel? There would be no nuclear plants unless we take the hot dangerous radioactive fuel out of containment. It’s not an engineering decision it’s a business decision and that’s why every nuclear reactor should be permanently shutdown immediately.
Second, three reactors that melted down and at least one breached primary containment. Let me repeat, “breached primary containment”, what cannot happen, happened. The breach happened even though the fuel was not in a critical arrangement i.e., we are told the reactors shutdown because the fuel rods dropped. Fine, the primary containment could not even contain a non-critical accident. If primary containment is not used for non-critical fuel but it cannot even contain a non-critical accident for which it is supposed to be unnecessary then what is primary containment for? Again, we are left to guess … psychological comfort? Brownie points for a good try? Maybe I am missing something … any nuclear engineers want to help out here?
Third, the whole plant is designed to withstand a magnitude 7 earthquake. Curious, so are the California plants. Now why is that? Why not 8 or 9 or 6? The reasoning in both Japan and California is that magnitude 7 is the largest quake possible in that area based on faults near the plant but we know that the California coast could be subject to the same kind and magnitude of quake that hit Fukushima; a 9 not a 7. Why 7 though? We are left to guess … its impractical to engineer for a quake 8 or larger. The energy in those quakes are orders of magnitude larger and so is the cost of engineering the nuclear plant to withstand them so magnitude 7 it was and now we are told, at least with unit 1 that the quake not the tsunami was the cause of the meltdown but there are pictures of cracks in the primary containment of all the units.
Fourth, a similar problem with the siting of the plant vis-a-vi the possible amplitude of a tsunami. Even a 32 meter wall (100 foot) would have been topped by the tsunami at some places along Japan’s coast. Well why a 10 meter wall then? We are left to guess … 32 meters is too expensive? Too impractical?
Nuclear accidents cannot happen. I am learning now the Pacific NW of the USA is possibly contaminated by an accident 8,000 miles away; my home. How long will that go on? How much worse will it get? My son is just a child
So you fuckers who work for the industry and have been saying these plants are safe but knowingly compromised the engineering on them along the way; I want to hear from you NOW in this forum. Tell me why we should not shut down every one of these stupid things.