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Wed Dec 14, 2011, 10:53 PM

Gundersen: Could Fukushima have a China Syndrome?

Fairewinds' Chief Engineer Arnie Gundersen discusses whether the accidents at Fukushima were a meltdown, a melt-through, or a China Syndrome. Whatever the accidents are named, thousands of tons of water contaminated with plutonium, uranium, and other very toxic radioactive isotopes are flooding the site, the surrounding water table, and the ocean.

"...So the good news is I do not think a China Syndrome can happen. I do not think this core can keep melting into the bottom of the earth. And I do not think there will be a steam explosion either. That is the good news.

Here is the bad news. That nuclear core is in direct contact with tons of water. And that containment, while not leaking down, is leaking out the sides. That contaminated water is going into every other building on site. And there is literally thousands and thousands of tons of water in other buildings. That water contains radioactive cesium, radioactive strontium, and it also contains nuclear fuel. There will be uranium in that water and plutonium in that water as well. We know for sure that that water is leaking into the ground water and into the Pacific Ocean. So while it is important to know that we are not going to release the nuclear core directly into the center of the earth, the problem is not over. And as a matter of fact, the problem will last for tens, perhaps even as long as 30 years because this contaminated water is in the basements of all the buildings on site. And not only does it contain cesium (that hangs around for 300 years), strontium (hangs around for 300 years), but it also contains plutonium and uranium and they have half lives of tens of thousands of years.

So the problem is, what do we do with all that water that is contaminated? It is already leaking into the groundwater. It is already leaking into the ocean. TEPCO is frantically catching it and putting it into tanks. But just today, TEPCO announced that they are running out of tank space on site, and eventually they are going to have to release those tanks into the Pacific Ocean. Now they will try to clean up some of the isotopes like cesium. But they have been unable to capture all the strontium. Strontium is a bone seeker that causes leukemia.

So we are not out of the woods. We are far from out of the woods. It will be 30 years before we capture all that nuclear fuel that is underneath that reactor vessel. And until then, it will be surrounded with water that is leaking into the groundwater..."


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Reply Gundersen: Could Fukushima have a China Syndrome? (Original post)
FourScore Dec 2011 OP
Prometheus Bound Dec 2011 #1

Response to FourScore (Original post)

Wed Dec 14, 2011, 11:46 PM

1. I think there is a typo - cesium has a half life of 30 years, not 300

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