An acquaintance of mine, a local farmer who compared to many Kiwi’s is a politically aware and active man said when I mentioned Fukushima in a conversation when I mentioned Fukushima: “Oh, is it still leaking?” in what might easily be the biggest understatement in the history of humankind.
Leaking implies a vessel still very much in tact which has sprung a leak. In the case of Fukushima it’s more like there are no more reactor buildings or vessels, the reactors have lost their fuel but even worse the biggest source of potential radiation, the fuel polls are hanging by mere beams of steel precariously in mid air and a slight shake can release these pools with fuel rods, the ones from Reactor three containing plutonium ( vaporised golf ball sized amount is enough to kill everything on this planet), into the atmosphere.
Here is a visual tour of these fuel pools:
A Visual Tour of the Fuel Pools of Fukushima
Do You Know What the Fuel Pools Actually Look Like?
You already know that Fukushima’s fuel pool number 4 may be the single greatest threat, but that pool number 3 is very dangerous as well.
You’ve heard that unit 3′s fuel pool contains less radioactive material than unit 4 … but still a tremendous amount of radiation. Scientific American reported last year:
The pools at each reactor are thought to have contained the following amounts of spent fuel, according to The Mainichi Daily News:
• Reactor No. 1: 50 tons of nuclear fuel
• Reactor No. 2: 81 tons
• Reactor No. 3: 88 tons
• Reactor No. 4: 135 tons
• Reactor No. 5: 142 tons
• Reactor No. 6: 151 tons
• Also, a separate ground-level fuel pool contains 1,097 tons of fuel; and some 70 tons of nuclear materials are kept on the grounds in dry storage.
Reactor 3 … uses highly dangerous mixed oxide fuel, Tokyo Electric has reported.
No. 3 reactor is the only one at the crippled power station that was powered by the plutonium-uranium MOX
You’ve gotten the fact that – if the water drains out for any reason – it will cause a fire in the fuel rods, as the zirconium metal jacket on the outside of the fuel rods could very well catch fire within hours or days after being exposed to air. See this, this, this and this. (And that even a large solar flare could knock out the water-circulation systemsfor the pools.)
You’ve listened to experts say that – unless the rods are removed from the fuel pools before a major earthquake strikes (using special equipment which keeps the rods submerged in water the whole time) – they will likely catch fire and release huge amounts of radioactivity. See this and this – starting at 4 minutes into the video.