The Ergosphere
Friday, November 22, 2013
 

The unfolding tragedy at Fukushima Dai'ichi Unit 4

I feel it's time to expand on the analysis of Harvey Wasserman on the spent fuel issue.  As he says, "We are now within two months of what may be humankind’s most dangerous moment since the Cuban Missile Crisis."

In a terribly dangerous process, 22 fuel elements from the Fukushima Dai'ichi Unit 4 spent fuel pool came within mere light-years of causing the end of all life on earth.  Lifted one at a time from their protecting racks, they came several crucial meters closer to the top of the water pool which is the only thing keeping them wet.  Then, in a maneuver fraught with tedium, they were laid vertically in a cask already placed at the bottom of the pool.  This process was repeated a harrowing 22 times over 2 days at the blistering average pace of more than one per hour.  This cask was then sealed and lifted from the pool and away from the building by a crane.  The cask fell toward the ground at a rate of inches per second, coming to rest at the last moment in a cradle atop a flat bed truck.

It did not end there.  The truck proceeded to careen about the site at the rate of several miles per hour until it came to the common fuel pool at the F. Dai'ichi site, where the threat of encountering a pebble or running over an insect finally ended.  The cask was again thrown through the air, whipped about at inches per second at the end of fragile steel cables, until it came to rest at the bottom of another pool of water in a miraculously undamaged state.  The dangerous cask-sealing process was reversed in a dangerous cask un-sealing process, and the harrowing transfer of fuel rods was repeated in mirror-image from cask to rack.  Each bundle of rods was observed to strike its supporting rack stops, which physical contact is expected to continue indefinitely or until the fuel, the Sun, or the universe explodes.

This tragic lack of bad news means that the dream of ending humanity's use of nuclear energy remains out of reach.  TEPCO expects to repeat these steps more than 160 times to empty the Unit 4 fuel pool.  Mr. Wasserman's forecast of nuclear armageddon is bound to be satisfied sometime.  He has years and years for his predictions of catastrophe to finally come true.

UPDATE:  TEPCO videos can be found here.  Note the blistering, inches-per-second pace of work!

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Comments:
The complete lack of justification for previous predictions of doom will in no way inhibit Harvey and the gang from future scare stories.
 
Until nobody can read their screeds without laughing, that is.  Thus this piece.
 
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