Arnie Gundersen and Indianapolis' WIBC Denny Smith Discuss Radiation Releases at Fukushima Daiichi

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About This Interview

Denny Smith of Indianapolis' WIBC radio hosts Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds. The interview begins with an in-depth analysis complete with straight-talk discussions of the nuclear power generating process. Also, Denny and Arnie discuss the catastrophic radiation releases at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility.

Interview Transcript

Denny Smith:  Good evening, my name is Denny Smith and welcome to the show.  13 months ago in northern Japan, there was a terrible earthquake in the vicinity of the Tokyo Electric Power Company's Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear facility.  In terms of nuclear disasters, the failure that happened in April, 1986 in Chernobyl, Ukraine was the worst the world had sustained until March of last year when the catastrophe in northern Japan took place.  And although the government of Japan, the TEPCO folks, Tokyo Electric Power Company and the nuclear officials from around the world have consistently reassured citizens of Japan that everything is under control and there is very little threat to the health of those in proximity to the area of Fukushima.  The fact of the matter is that Fukushima has become the worst nuclear disaster ever.  For the last several weeks, I have been on the trail of a very respected nuclear engineer who has knowledge of the situation in Japan and who has the experience to analyze the situation as to what risks it presents to the United States and the rest of the world.

So joining me this evening is Arnie Gundersen.  Arnie is a nuclear engineer and safety expert and serves as Chief Engineer at Fairewinds Associates in Burlington Vermont.  Fairewinds Associates is an energy consulting company.  Arnie previously worked for Nuclear Energy Services in Danbury, Connecticut.  And Nuclear Energy Services is a consulting firm where Arnie was Senior Vice President.  Arnie holds a masters degree in nuclear engineering which means he is so much smarter than I am.  I am very pleased to welcome Arnie to central Indiana and 93 WIBC.  Good evening Arnie, how are you?

Arnie:  Hi, I'm great.  Thank you very much for having me.

Denny Smith:  And my thanks to Maggie, the Butler student from 69-70 who helped me track you down.  Is that your wife?

Arnie Gundersen:  Yes, she is.

Denny Smith:  The funny thing about Maggie was when I finally figured out that she knew Indianapolis, I told her that it was the bell tower there in Butler University where I kissed my wife I think for the first time.  And she says, I was probably studying there in 1969 - 1970.  It was a pleasure to meet her, but I am so delighted to have you.  I wanted to invite you to sort of become our professor of nuclear power generation and to get your wisdom and your thoughts, certainly your perspective on everything from Fukushima-Daiichi, of the Tokyo Electric Company.  And I also would appreciate your perspective of what it really means for the nuclear industry here in the United States.  So lets start with just how these GE designed nuclear generators work.  In other words, go really slow for us and as slowly as you can, tell us how nuclear power is harnessed to generate electricity in the first place.

Arnie:  OK, to begin with, almost everything else I will tell you applies to every reactor, not just GE.  But it starts with uranium.  When a uranium atom splits, it gives off an incredible amount of energy.  And that is the beauty of atomic power.  It does not take a lot of mass to create a lot of energy, unlike coal, for instance, where you need more mass than you do from uranium.  So the good news is that when a uranium atom splits, it gives off an enormous burst of energy.  The bad news is that the 2 pieces that are left behind when a uranium atom splits are still 1, radioactive and they are still hot.   So that happens in an atom at a time inside a nuclear fuel rod.  So all that uranium gets put into things about the size of your pinkie, and then those things get stacked in a row and a metal called zircaloy, clads that, and holds them all together.  So they have these 12 ' long strings of spaghetti that hold the uranium atoms into nuclear fuel rods.

Denny Smith:  Joining me this evening is Arnie Gundersen.  He is a chief engineer of what I am just going to call nuclear physics.  I don't really know what else to . . . Are you a physicist or an engineer?  How would you describe what it is you do, Arnie?

Arnie:  When I started college, I chose Rensselaer because they had a program called Engineering Physics.  The year I started, they dropped the program.

Denny Smith:  So that is how you ended up in nuclear engineering.

Arnie:  That's right.

Denny Smith:  All right, well, anyway, I am so pleased to have you.  Now we are talking about these fuel rods about the size of your pinkie, so that would be maybe a half inch across, as long as 12 ' long, is that right?

Arnie:  Yes.  And they are stacked about 12x12 or 10x10, like an egg crate.  So then there are several hundred of those 12x12 arrays inside the nuclear core.

Denny Smith:  All right.  So the fuel rod is made up of uranium, does it have a sheath?  Is there anything surrounding it?

Arnie:  Yes, the sheath is that material called zircaloy.  It is an alloy that has zircronium in it.

Denny Smith:  All right.  So how long will a fuel rod last?

Arnie:  Depending on how they run, around 4 to 6 years.

Denny Smith:  One fuel rod will last 4 to 6 years?

Arnie:  Yes.  What they do is they start the rod and every 18 months, they move it inside the nuclear reactor.  So it is almost like feeding a fire, where you have got the hottest spot in the middle and the coolest spot on the outside.  They take the fuel from the outside and keep moving it in toward the center and that fuel rod will last about 5 years.

Denny Smith:  This sounds incredibly a lot like welding where we have our hot anode and cathode and we are sort of melting things in the middle.  Am I getting the analogy right?  Have you ever done any welding?

Arnie:  Yes I have.

Denny Smith:  I get the sense of a very, very hot center and we are moving fuel into it from either the steel or from the anode coming in.

Arnie:  The only problem there is that the center of a nuclear reactor is only 600 degrees.  It is not red hot.  If it gets to 2,000 degrees, you have a problem.  But in normal operation, the center of a nuclear reactor is about 600 degrees.

Denny Smith:  Arnie Gundersen joins me from Vermont this evening.  He is a nuclear engineer and we are talking about the disaster that befell TEPCO, the Tokyo Electric Power Company in Fukushima-Daiichi.  It was March of last year.  And I have asked Arnie to come on.  I have had serious concerns about . . . I have a friend that is on the left coast over in Oregon and he has a geiger counter and he has been reading more and more radiation levels.  I just started looking into it and I found out that we may not be getting the whole story.  So I have have invited Arnie to come on and sort of give us a perspective, an update from an engineer's standpoint, to let him dumb it down so all of us can really get it.  What took place was that there were 6 reactors at Fukushima.  I believe 2 of them were shut down but there were still 4 that were hot of some sort.  Now Arnie has been telling us how a fuel rod is put together.  It is uranium.  He is telling us how long it will last.  Arnie, how do you know when a fuel rod is actually used up and needs to be replaced with another fuel rod?  How do you monitor that?

Arnie:  Actually, toward the end of a nuclear reactor's core life, it starts to lose power all the way on its own.  You do not have any control over it.  So the last month a power plant will run at 95% and then at 90%.  It just gradually runs out of steam.

Denny Smith:  So what we are doing is we are converting this heat to steam, we are converting the heat to a source where we can power something else, and you are just reading the levels coming out of that rod.  The temperature is coming down?

Arnie:  The temperature stays the same but the amount of steam that can come out goes down.

Denny Smith:  All right.  So what happens to a fuel rod after it is all used up?  We keep hearing about a spent fuel rod pool.  What happens to a fuel rod after it is used up?  What do you do with it?

Arnie:  They open the head of the nuclear reactor, just like the top of a pressure cooker, they open the top of the pressure cooker and they take out about 1/3 of the nuclear fuel every 18 months.  And that gets put in a nuclear fuel pool, but like I said at the beginning of the segment, it is hot, it is physically hot, even though the nuclear chain reaction has stopped.  And it has to be cooled in water for at least 5 years.

Denny Smith:  All right.  When we pull it out of the reactor, is it immersed in water within the reactor or is it just in an open environment where it is throwing off heat that is then transduced over to a steam pool?

Arnie:  All this is done under 40' of water.

Denny Smith:  All of this is under 40' of water, even within the reactor?

Arnie:  Yes, the whole reactor is flooded about 40' high and that serves 2 purposes:  1. it keeps things cool, but 2. the radiation coming off this rod is lethal, so you need lots of water to act as shielding for the men that are above pulling the rods.

Denny Smith:  All right, I think we have started a class in nuclear physics with a new friend, Arnie Gundersen.  Arnie is a nuclear engineer.  He is talking with me this evening from Burlington, Vermont.  And he is the Chief Engineer at Fairewinds, which is a nuclear advisory scientific organization.  I have tracked him down and he has been so kind to give us not only physics 101 and nuclear power generation 101, but we are going to get into what has transpired over in Tokyo, or just north of Tokyo, there at Fukushima.  My name is Denny Smith and when we come back, more of the story with Arnie Gundersen right here on 93 WIBC.

Good evening once again.  My name is Denny Smith.  Thanks for joining me on the show.  With you here almost every evening when there is not a basketball game, 7 to 9.  I so enjoy sharing with you knowledge base that is not my own from experts around the world.  Tonight we are in Vermont and we have tracked down a nuclear engineer by the name of Arnie Gundersen.  Arnie, a lot of people do not know much about you.  You and I share a common ground in that we both had mechanics of sorts for parents.  My father was a plumber.  What was your father?

Arnie:  My father was a master mechanic and then at night he went out and built houses, he was a carpenter.

Denny Smith:  He was a carpenter.  Now you told a story about that the first time I talked to you about going to a class where the professor nailed us as second generations.  Tell us that story real quick.

Arnie:  I was the first kid on both sides of the family to go to college, first one to fly in an airplane.  So I went to Rensselaer, and I took a course called Immigration.  The professor walked in and before he announced anything, he said, I bet that 75% of you are first generation Americans whose fathers are mechanics.  Raise your hands.  And he nailed it:  3/4 of the class, first generation mechanic's kids.

Denny Smith:  Isn't that amazing.  Well, as a carpenter's kid, you have got a good heritage.  I will be the plumber's kid.  All I ask of you tonight is to talk slowly for us, because as a nuclear engineer we are trying to digest the information that we get through the news media, which is sort of filtered, well it is filtered an awful lot.  And yet we want to understand if there are risks, if there are benefits, if we are getting the straight scoop, from what has taken place over in the northern part of Japan in a place called Fukushima-Daiichi.  Now we have been talking about the fuel rods.  Now the fuel rods once they are used up, you say they replace a third of them, so they are going to replace . . . if they are 12', do we have them all into one assembly, or is it one rod and they are going to pull out like 4' of it.  Of these 12' rods, how do they replace these things?

Arnie:  They take out a 12' bundle at a time.

Denny Smith:  That is called the assembly, you were telling me earlier.

Arnie:  Yes, that is called the entire fuel rod assembly.  And then that gets lifted on an overhead crane, trolley, and it gets pulled through a little slit between the nuclear reactor and the nuclear fuel pool.  And then it gets put into a box in the nuclear fuel pool called the nuclear fuel rack.  And there is a slot for it.  So they will do that 40-50 times and they will take old fuel out into the rack and then they will put new fuel in, after shuffling the fuel, like I said, moving the more spent . . . The older fuel goes to the center and the newer fuel goes around the outside.  But at the end of the day when they put the lid back on the reactor to run it again for another 18 months, the nuclear fuel in the fuel pool still remains physically hot and highly radioactive.

Denny Smith:  All right.  I am trying to get my understanding of the fuel rods themselves.  When we say we replace a third of them every 18 months, does one assembly . . .  How many rods go into an assembly?

Arnie:  It is about roughly a hundred, 10 by 10.

Denny Smith:  All right, so we have about a hundred of those rascals in a containment assembly.  How many assemblies are in the core at any one point?

Arnie:  A couple hundred.  (Oh my gosh!)  They are going to remove 60-ish.

Denny Smith:  We are talking about a lot of  . . .How much does one rod, a half an inch, you said it is about the size of my pinkie and it is 12' long, how much does a rod like that weigh?

Arnie:  I have never lifted a rod, but the bundle exceeds 1,000 pounds.

Denny Smith:  All right, so this overhead crane that is probably on an I-beam, it is like a chain hoist that most of us who have been in factories, we assume that there is a way for it to be manipulated very strategically, to drop down with a chain hoist, to hook on to this, to pull it out, move it over to another place in this pool of water, and all of this is 40' under water.

Arnie:  Right.  I was doing a refueling back in the 70's on a plant almost identical to Fukushima, called Millstone.  And we lost power up on the refueling deck and it was beautiful because the water was glowing blue, because there is so much radiation in the nuclear fuel.  Really, the whole room lit up with this blue glow until the power came back on.  You have probably seen the pictures of these nuclear fuel rods encased in blue.

Denny Smith:  I have.

Arnie:  And that is the radiation coming off the nuclear fuel rods.   Over time, that decays away, but for a couple of hundred days, it is really bright blue down in the bottom of that fuel pool.

Denny Smith:  You know Arnie, a nuclear engineer . . .  a plumber has to worry about splashing poop in his face, you know, sticking his hands and fingers where they should not be.  A nuclear guy . . . Did you walk around with a dosimeter of some sort, something on your hip so you would know if you were getting too much radiation?  How did you protect yourself?

Arnie:  Yes, all the time.  First off, you do not go into an area unless you know what is in that area.  If you have no clue what is in a radiation area, you will put a detector in on the end of a long pole and look around and then you will send somebody in who will briefly do a survey.  So you have a rough idea of what is in the building at all times.  Some of these areas in the plant you can walk in in street clothes and then some you will have to wear booties and a light protective clothing.  And then some get to the point where you will have to go in with a Scott airpack, you know almost like a fireman with a protective cover over your face.  And in the worst case, you go in in a suit that is pressurized with air from the outside that totally eliminates any radiation coming in.

Denny Smith:  Joining me tonight is Arnie Gundersen.   He is a nuclear engineer with Fairewinds.  I have been so delighted to find him.  Arnie, I will say this:  you are a whistle-blower.  That means that you are saying things that are, from my perspective, the truth.  But sometimes the messenger gets shot because when people hear what you are saying, they misinterpret that . . .  you become the focal point, and as a whistleblower, sometimes that is an uncomfortable position.  But what I have to do at this point is sort of step you back to a period of time 12-13 months ago when something terrible happened in Tokyo.  And a lot of the information we are about to share on air here this evening, it is not the first time it has been shared but it is of critical importance to all of us around the world because the disaster is not over, is it?

Arnie:  No it is not.  It is almost like one of these horror movies where you think you have killed the beast and it pops up again.  Right now, everybody's eyes are focused on Unit 4, which is not one of the 3 that blew up, but it is actually the one that never had nuclear fuel in the core when the tsunami hit.

Denny Smith:  Let's go back to March of last year. It was a fairly normal day.  It was in northern Japan and suddenly we have this earthquake that causes a tsunami.  What happened next? What caused the damage at Fukushima?  Was it the earthquake or was it the tsunami?  What happened?

Arnie:  There is some indication that in the first unit, Unit 1, the oldest unit, there was damage from the earthquake.  But the other units on site appear to have ridden out the earthquake.  At sea, it was a couple hundred miles offshore, more than a hundred miles offshore, it was a 9, but on site it was around a 7.5.

Denny Smith:  That is still a lot, now that is a logarithmic scale, is it not?  When we look at those scales, a 7 is 100 times less than an 8, and an 8 is a hundred times less than a 9.  So we are talking 10,000 times less than a 9 onshore, is that correct?

Arnie:  It is at least 1,000 times worse.

Denny Smith:  Wow, OK.

Arnie:  So what happened next, was the plant shut down.  When you hear that term "shutdown", what that means is that the nuclear fuel rods dropped into the core and the chain reaction stopped.  And 95% of the heat stops immediately when the chain reaction stops.  But when we were talking before about those pieces leftover, those fission products, there is still 5% that remains.  Now 5% does not sound like a lot, except that that nuclear reactor had about 3 million horsepower.  So 5% of 3 million horsepower is 150,000 horses in a room that is only about the size of a bedroom.  A nuclear core is only about 12' by 12' by 12'.  So you put 150,000 horses in a room that is 12 by 12 by 12 and you can imagine there is a lot of heat that has got to get liberated.

Denny Smith:  Arnie Gundersen joins us from Vermont.  He is a nuclear engineer.  We are discussing and we are telling the story of what happened in Fukushima.  And when we come back, we are going to sort of break this down a little bit further.  And we know now that the reactors have shut down.  We know that that stops 95% of the process.  But still with 5% of the process, we have got a lot of energy that we need to dissipate.  When we come back we will find out what happened to that energy and what is happening to that energy still.  My name is Denny Smith and you are listening to 93 WIBC.

Denny Smith:  93 WIBC  Good evening, my name is Denny Smith and we are discussing Fukushima.  Fukushima-Daiichi which is in the northern part of Japan . . . it was 13 months ago that we had a terrible earthquake and a tsunami that caused the reactors, there were 6 of them, 2 of them were already shut down, the other 4 at Fukushima shut down automatically.  Joining me this evening is Arnie Gundersen.  Arnie is a nuclear engineer and he has become more and more vocal over the last several months about the danger that still remains there in Japan.  And I have invited him on the show.  It took a little bit of detective work to find him and he is in quite demand right now because he has analyzed where the danger is.  He has been explaining to us that when we shut down the plants, 95% of the energy just stopped.  But there is still 5% that is glowing.  Now Arnie, when I looked at these buildings, particularly the ones that were blown up, it is my understanding that that came from hydrogen and hydrogen is lighter than air gas, very explosive.  It was what was in the Hindenburg when it blew up.  Where did the hydrogen come from that blew up these buildings?

Arnie:  By the way, when my mother was a little girl, she lived about 30 miles from Lakehurst.

Denny Smith:  Oh my.  Oh boy.

Arnie:  And she could see the flames from the Hindenburg.  The hydrogen comes from a reaction with that zircaloy, that cladding around the uranium.  It will actually take water, H20, and strip the oxygen out of it.  So it wants to pull oxygen atoms out of the water, and when that happens, of course, now you have got hydrogen, which is a gas.  So when the zircaloy gets too hot, the nuclear reactor is normally at 600 degrees.  But when you do not cool it down, when you lose cooling (the tsunami knocked out the cooling), when you do not cool the zircaloy down, it gets to about 2,000 degrees and at that point, it wants to suck the oxygen out of the water.  And in the process it liberates hydrogen gas.

Denny Smith:  And so that builds up in the head and then there was some sort of ignition source which could have been anything from a spark to anything, and that is what blew up the buildings?

Arnie:  That's right.

Denny Smith:  All right.  So those explosions, in all of the reactor buildings.  There were 4 separate explosions or just 3?

Arnie:  Unit 1 exploded first within about a day of the tsunami.  The most dramatic one was Unit 3.  That is the one that had that huge flume that went straight up in the air.  Unit 2 is the one in-between and when you look at the pictures, the box is still there, but there is a hole in the side of it.  And it had an internal explosion, sort of like sneezing while holding your ears, it has got to go somewhere.  You know like holding your nose.

Denny Smith:  Yeah, it doesn't usually come out your ears.  I know what end it comes out.  I know exactly what you mean Arnie.

Arnie:  So Unit 2 looks OK, but in fact, the containment is cracked.  And then Unit 4 is the most curious one because it did not have any nuclear fuel in the reactor, it was all in the spent fuel pool.  And there were a series of fires or explosions over a couple of days that, as you watch the time lapse pictures on the plant, it gradually destroys itself.  But they were all caused by hydrogen.

Denny Smith:  But did the plant lose power through this?  Did they have auxiliary power?  Because I know that there are safeties built into these.  Now, I have not read the entire engineering reports from GE.  But I have been trying to get through those.  And it appears to me that a lot of this had to do with a lack of power.  What about the backup power at Fukushima?

Arnie:  It is interesting.  These plants are made to generate power, but when they shut down, they need power to keep these pumps cool.  They had 5 different power lines coming in from mainland Japan.  But the earthquake took them all out.  So they lost their offsite power from the earthquake.  Then they had diesels, each plant had 2 diesels in the basement.  But the diesels were placed below the water level of the tsunami and they never thought that the diesels would flood.  So when the tsunami came, the diesels got wiped out.  So they had no power from off site and they had no power from their diesels.  Now they had one other source of power, they had batteries and the batteries were designed to last for about 4 hours.  The batteries cannot turn these huge pumps that are needed to cool the plant.  But they can work all the bowels, the instrumentation and things like that.  And engineers figured the worst that could happen is the plant would lose all these sources of power for 4 hours.

Denny Smith:  You mean in the design criteria.

Arnie:  Yes.

Denny Smith:  OK.

Arnie:  When I heard on the morning of the accident that the Japanese had asked the State Department for batteries, I knew it was over.

Denny Smith:  You knew it immediately.

Arnie:  I knew Friday morning, they are 12 hours ahead of us, so it was Friday night by then over there.  I knew they were going to have a meltdown.  Because the batteries alone would run out and at that point, there is nothing left.

Denny Smith:  Arnie Gundersen joins me from Vermont.  He is a nuclear engineer.  He works with Fairewinds Engineering.  He has been in the nuclear industry forever.  Arnie, you actually operated a plant, did you not?

Arnie:  I have an operator's license.  Yes, back in the old days, it was an Atomic Energy Commission license.  Back then in the late 70's that became the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  But I have an AEC license.

Denny Smith:  All right.  Now these were active online reactors generating full power . . .  were all four . . .  let's see, Fukushima 1, 2, 3 & 4 were online and actively generating power, 5 & 6 were shut down for whatever reason.  Did I read that in the report correctly?

Arnie:  No, 4 was shut down also.

Denny Smith:  4 was shut down also?

Arnie:  Yes, but 4 had just recently been shut down, so the nuclear fuel in it's fuel pool was still incredibly hot.

Denny Smith:  All right.  Now . . .

Arnie:  It is interesting because what saved 5 & 6, was an air-cooled diesel that was brought in a couple of years ago.  And it was placed in a situation where it did not flood and it did not need any water to cool it, like the water pump on your car.  They had one air cooled diesel that saved 5 & 6.

Denny Smith:  Arnie, we have a disaster of biblical proportion right now, a nuclear disaster that was the granddaddy of all nuclear disasters that we have had to date.  And suddenly we saw it everywhere in the news.  But the news was also covering the tsunami and the results of the earthquake.  And it was almost like the Japanese Government and Tokyo Electric Power Company's  TEPCO did not really want us to know how bad things were.  Arnie, how bad is it?

Arnie:  I absolutely agree, the prime minister of Japan now, he was the Minister of Finance back during the accident, said, 3 weeks after the accident, whatever we do, we do not want to make TEPCO look bad here.  So clearly, that was the indication.  It is certainly the biggest industrial disaster in the history of humankind, and by that I mean from the cost standpoint.  Just to clean up the site, forget cleaning up off the site, just to clean the site up, is going to be something around 60 billion, that is with a B, dollars, to clean up the remainder of the, essentially this is a state.  The Fukushima Prefecture is about the size of Connecticut.  And to clean up the prefecture and then all the other places where high radiation went, is going to be somewhere between a quarter of a trillion and a half a trillion dollars.

Denny Smith:  Oh my.  Oh my.

Arnie:  The human issues and the cancer issues are separate.  But just from a monetary . . . we can count money.  The amount of money to clean this up is going to be totally at around half a trillion dollars.

Denny Smith:  I keep watching as much as I can about this and one of the beauties of computer tools such as YouTube is that you can hit closed caption.  And I have been watching news report after news report from Tokyo television and all of a sudden, the investigative reporters have figured it out.  And I have watched a panel of 4 journalists hearing the news from, not an undercover fellow, but a fellow who has finally figured out that we cannot move these spent fuel rods, and if we have another earthquake, that we are talking . . . that it is going to be 100 times worse.  But have you seen any of those reports, have you ever gone and watched those YouTubes in closed caption and listened to these Japanese finally figure out - it has happened in the last two weeks. It is like this, oh my god, why aren't they telling us this?

Arnie:  You know I have been working with the Japanese Ambassador to the United Nations, a guy named Akio Matsumura, for about a year now and it is through his efforts that the Japanese are finally understanding that.  But you know, the reason the Americans were told to get out after 50 miles, was not because of the explosions in 1, 2 & 3, it was because of the potential problem in Unit 4, which is now finally becoming recognized over in Japan.

Denny Smith:  This is the voice of Arnie Gundersen. When we come back, we are going to talk about some of the heroics that took place that day.  What was the immediate mitigation, what is triage?  In our hospitals when we have a disaster, we have a lot of people coming in and there is one person, the triage nurse or the triage physician that says, you go here, you go here.  When we come back, we are going to break that down and find out what happened on that fateful day back in March of 2011.  My name is Denny Smith, along with a new friend, Arnie Gundersen, right here on 93 WIBC.

Denny Smith:  Welcome back to the Denny Smith Show.  My name is Denny Smith.  Joining me from Vermont and the folks at Fairewinds, is a fellow by the name of Arnie Gundersen.  He is a nuclear engineer.  He has been so gracious to share his time with us here this evening in Central Indiana.  And he is telling us the story of what has happened back in March of 2011 in northern Japan.  There was an earthquake at sea.  There was a tsunami.  There were 6 nuclear reactors, 2 and a half of them were shut down, or actually, 3 were shut down, 3 were active.  A chain reaction started that has struck the world in a way that was almost an Achilles Heel.  We did not see it coming.  We did not think that any of our GE designed reactors would ever be faced with these sort of circumstances, but indeed it was a worst case scenario.  Arnie take us back to what happened when the engineers at the plant . . . You know, what was the sequence, we lose power and then all of a sudden there was that oh doggone moment.  Tell us about the heroics of how to deal with these issues in triage.

Arnie:  Well first of all, the world really needs to thank about 1,000 Japanese, perhaps 2,000 Japanese who stayed and who fought this thing heroically.  I am not talking about Tokyo Electric's management, but there was a thousand people on the Daiichi site and there was 1,000 people on the Danai site, which almost melted down, and those 2,000 people certainly saved Japan and likely prevented a worldwide catastrophe.  So, in our prayers every night, I thank a bunch of very brave people.  But what happened was that, after the earthquake, the lights flickered, but then the diesels came on.  So, the control room had light and the people in the control room had procedures on how to shut the plant down.  Of course, the control rods had fallen in and things were cooling for about 45 minutes.  And then came the tsunami.  And within a minute after the tsunami hit, there was no power.  The diesels had been flooded.  At that point, there were some emergency lights that came on on the batteries.  But essentially, throughout this plant and it was huge, you had rubble from the earthquake and now it is dark.  Shortly after that, radiation levels began to climb and men had to go into dark areas that were filled with rubble that were highly radioactive and manually begin to operate valves.  Now everybody had thought that there would be electricity and you could throw buttons and these valves would operate.  But of course, that was no longer possible.

Denny Smith:  So this is like an explosion in your basement, there is no light, things fall off the ceiling, things fall off the wall, things that were stacked up fall over, you cannot see anything.  Did they have auxiliary lighting of any sort?

Arnie:  Well, that was battery powered too, so within about 4 hours they did not.  Guys were running out to the parking lot and taking their car batteries and trying everything possible to get battery power to different kinds of emergency lighting.  It is almost like a fireman going into a building on fire at that point.  You have got your Scott air pack on.  You are protected from smoke and you are in a dark building, so you are carrying a flashlight and you have got a tool kit of some kind, you are in there for some kind of purpose, and oh by the way, it is also highly radioactive, so you are watching your monitor as well to tell you how long you can stay in these places.  There is a valve in the basement of these units that was designed to open up the containment and let the gasses out.  But it was a motor operated valve and it was designed to run on electricity, and of course, that did not exist.

Denny Smith:  Arnie, give us a rough idea of what size valves.  Now, I am a plumber, are we talking 12" bolted flanged type work, or are we talking 18", 20", how big are the pipes and how big are the valves?

Arnie:  That particular valve was about 12".

Denny Smith:  OK

Arnie:  It is a 12" line.

Denny Smith:  So it has got a great big wheel mechanism that has to be turned, clockwise or counterclockwise, to get into position to bypass or to stop.

Arnie:  You got it. and attached to the wheel was also a motor.

Denny Smith:  So you can gear it down and do it electrically.  OK.

Arnie:  Right.  But the valves, if you were in manual mode, had to be turned 300 times.

Denny Smith:  Oh my gosh.

Arnie:  Can you imagine turning a crank 300 times in a physically hot, radioactively hot, dark, smoky environment?

Denny Smith:  I would say the torque even at that leverage would be the equivalent of pulling about a 40 pound or a 50 pound . . . I do not know how big their wheels were, you know we have got leverage as we get more and more radius on it.  I would say that that was physically impossible to do without 2 or 3 guys.

Arnie:  Right.  And of course, no one anticipated that you would have to.  It was not within the realm of the imagination that you would have to do it manually.  So they did crack these valves open, but they did not open them all the way.  You have something called stay time.  Because it is highly radioactive, they probably by the time they got down there, had 5 minutes on the job before they got the radiation quota and had to get out.  So it was a short time, hot time, radioactive, dark, had to be frightening because different parts of the plant were burning and exploding.  It was a tough time for those guys.

Denny Smith:  Arnie, we know that in America, the radiation burns that we see are usually on purpose.  They are done for therapy for cancers, they are done for therapy in a thousand different ways.  Tell us what type of radiation, was it all encompassing, would the guys have felt heat, or the gals or whoever was inside these suits.  Do you feel anything from radiation or is it just a quiet death?

Arnie:  No, you do not feel anything.  And you know the suit does not protect you from the X-rays, from the gamma rays.  Those suits those guys are wearing even today just protect them from the particles so that when they go into that environment wearing a suit, the X-rays, the gamma rays are going right through it.  So while they are protected from the cesium and the strontium . . .

Denny Smith:  Which is what they would be breathing, is that correct?

Arnie:  Yes, correct.

Denny Smith:  OK, I got it.

Arnie:  And what would wind up on their skin.  But it does not protect them from the direct radiation.  So these guys knowingly increased the likelihood of cancer by something on the order of 30%.  For every 10 people, maybe 3 out of 10 would routinely get cancer.  And now you are probably as a result of this, talking about 5 out of 10 run the risk of cancer.  So they went into this knowing that they were dramatically increasing their risk of cancer and they did it anyway and that is a very brave thing to do.

Denny Smith:  The heroics that those workers . . . and the thing is is that a lot of us forget, these are just guys going to their jobs, doing their jobs, and yet they were the ones with the knowledge base and I think in their heart of hearts, they knew how serious it was.  But I got the feeling from reading these reports, these guys were incredibly heroic.  It was that one moment in your life when you essentially look yourself in the eye in the mirror and you catch your own glance and you say, I got to do this, I just got to do this.  And those 2,000 guys . . . Of the folks that have been in there, has the danger passed for those workers working in that environment or is that danger still there?

Arnie:  It is still there.  If it had passed, they would be wearing street clothes at this point and of course no one is.  You know there is an interesting story, it is in Fortune Magazine and it just came out, the mid-April edition about Fukushima.  And it talks about the plant manager and the Tokyo Electric management.  Tokyo Electric management wanted to pull the plug.  They wanted to evacuate the plant, they wanted to withdraw.  And the president of Japan called the plant manager and he said, what is going on?  And he said, I can fight this but I need weapons.  And they are not giving it to me.  I need high pressure water and you have got to get it to me or else you are going to lose this plant.  So the plant manager on down, the people on the site who stayed for weeks, and part of this . . . in the back of their mind, they do not know what happened to their family.  Their family might be washed out to sea in the tsunami.

Denny Smith:  How were they communicating?  Did they have . . . was it ship to shore radio-type phones, how were they communicating, because all the power had to be knocked out.

Arnie:  I imagine with cell phones.

Denny Smith:  Cell phones, OK.

Arnie:  Yes.  So the plant manager, so the President of Japan met with the President of Tokyo Electric and said, you are not going to evacuate that site.  If you do, you will destroy the nation.  And so TEPCO knuckled under and provided these guys with the weapons they needed to fight that which is the big high pressure pumps, you know those pumps that they use to pump the concrete, and the Tokyo Fire Department came in and things like that.  That was an important decision point that the plant manager said, I can win this battle but you have got to give me the weapons.

Denny Smith:  The voice is that of Arnie Gundersen who joins me from Vermont.  He is a nuclear engineer and he is a champion for nuclear safety.  And he is telling us the story of Fukushima in northern Japan, what happened some 13 months ago.  Talk about dramatic, when we come back, we are going to learn some of the downstream effects of what has been taking place.  We are going to go down 135 miles to the south of Fukushima, to Tokyo, 135 miles.  To put that in proper perspective, from the Town of Gary, or from the City of Gary to the City of Indianapolis is 135 miles.  In a minute we are going to hear what is taking place radiologically in all of that.  My name is Denny Smith and this is 93 WIBC.

Denny Smith:  Good evening and welcome to 93 WIBC.  This evening on the Denny Smith Show we are talking about a nuclear disaster that took place In Fukushima in northern Japan in March of 2011.  Joining me by phone this evening is a nuclear engineer from Fairewinds.  His name is Arnie Gundersen.  He and his wife, Maggie, are the proprietors there at Fairewinds.  They are nuclear safety experts and by the grace of a lot of luck and some goodness of his fine wife, I have been able to track him down and he is joining us here this evening on 93 WIBC.   Arnie, we have heard about the heroics of these 2,000 guys and you think that they will be forgotten, but for those of us who know that whether you are in battle against an enemy armed with a 50 caliber machine gun, whether you are blazing into the fire of a tank or a rocket, there are those who do just as much for their fellow man going into highly radioactive areas.  Have any of these guys died at this point?  What will be their life expectancy based on the ones that are in those hot zones?

Arnie:  There are no prompt radiation deaths as a result of this.  Cancer takes between 5 and 20 years to manifest itself.  So they are going to have that in the back of their mind for essentially the rest of their career, and potentially the rest of their life.  The people that were exposed to the highest levels have increased the chances of getting cancer by about 30%.  So on average, 3 out of 10 Japanese get cancer and that is just the way life is, but in the case of these guys, it will be more like 6 out of 10 will get cancer.

Denny Smith:  Arnie, there is a story about a tarp at a school yard near Tokyo several miles south of the disaster.  It was laid out on a field just before all of the disaster hit, before the tsunami, before the earthquakes.  It was March of 2011.  They rolled up this tarp and discovered that it was absolutely contaminated, hugely contaminated with radioactivity.  That should have rung some bells in government.  But tell us what they did with that tarp and then tell us what they should have done. But tell us about that and what it told us about being . . . again, the distance from Gary, Indiana to Indianapolis, that is not a big distance.

Arnie:  It sure is.  The tarp was contaminated with particles, some hot particles of cesium and strontium and they give off radiation and of course the biggest concern with these hot particles is that, especially near a school is that kids would get them on their hands or their feet, ultimately either breathe them in or swallow them.   So when they found this tarp, they knew they had to dispose of it and it was incredibly high, over 100,000 disintegrations every second for every 2 pounds of tarp and this tarp weighed a couple thousand pounds.  So it was tens and hundreds of thousands of disintegrations per second, and that would go on and on and on for 30 years.

Denny Smith:  All right, so let's talk about disintegrations.  A dosimeter . . . is that a click, is one disintegration a click when we hear a geiger counter?

Arnie:  Yes.

Denny Smith:  All right, so this thing sounded like a clarinet.  I mean there was no separation between them, this was just a high-pitched squall, right?

Arnie:  Right.  Right.

Denny Smith:  Wow.

Arnie:  So they found this tarp and someone had just rolled it up and set it next to the building.  And they had to get rid of it.  Now if this were in the United States, that tarp would get taken to a waste disposal area in Texas and get buried and it would stay buried for 300 years.  But the Japanese have a lot of these contaminated sources and they are coming at it differently and I think from a public health standpoint they are making a mistake.  But what they do is they burned the tarp.  But because it was so radioactive and their laws prohibited burning that tarp, they added in 1,000 times more clean waste so they kind of dilute it down, the radioactive part of it, a thousand to one.  There is still just the same amount of radiation, but on a per kilogram basis, a per pound basis, they made it look as if it was not as radioactive.  So it went into an incinerator with 1,000 pounds of tarp and they added in 100,000 pounds of clean material and burned it all together.  Now, some of that then goes right back out the stack, and the rest of it winds up in the ash.  And now the Japanese are facing the problem, what do we do with all this radioactive ash?  And it, like you said, is singing like a clarinet when you go over and bring a radiation detector up to it.

Denny Smith:  I have a friend who lives in Oregon and it is his contention . . . he has two dosimeters and he is always reading . . . maybe I am saying this wrong.  I am going to call them geiger counters, the things that give off clicks.  And he takes daily readings and he has done this forever.  I do not know why he has done it, but it is his contention that the radiation levels on his property in Oregon have been dramatically higher about 6 weeks after that accident.  How much radiation has already made it to the United States I guess is going to take us to this study that was done about Fukushima and they say that 20% of the radiation from Fukushima wound up in Japan and that is the radiation that you and I are talking about right now that is in Tokyo.  But then there was 78% that went out to sea because of prevailing winds being east to west, similar to what they are here in Indiana.  What happened to that other 2%?  Is that the 2% that my buddy in Oregon is picking up on his geiger counter?

Arnie:  Yes, most of that 2% wound up in the Cascade Mountains, which is your buddy in Oregon.  The Japanese were lucky for two reasons.  It is hard to imagine thinking they were lucky in this.  But the first reason was that the wind was blowing out to sea.  There are some times when the current takes it across Japan and that probably would have cut Japan in half.  But this time of year the wind blows out to sea.  And the second thing that they were lucky about was that the accident happened on a Friday because the staff was there.  If it had happened on a weekend, there would have been not a thousand people there but maybe a hundred and there would not have been enough people to rescue this plant.

Denny Smith:  Arnie Gundersen is joining me from Vermont.  He is a nuclear engineer and we are talking about Fukushima.  Arnie, there are stories of highly radioactive animals now, rabbits I believe, as far away as 60 miles from Fukushima and they are considered hot by the people of these studies that I am reading.  What does that indicate to you as a nuclear engineer that we have animals now that are considered highly radioactive?

Arnie:  It is not just the rabbits.  They are also seeing it in grasshoppers and also in pinecones.

Denny Smith:  Yes, I was going to ask you about the pollen because in springtime, don't we have a pollen dump, doesn't that get airborne?

Arnie:  Yes.  The cedar trees, Japan is loaded with cedar trees, have highly radioactive pollen.  It is the same thing, it has picked it up last year and it is releasing it this year.  The radiation is going to work it's way up the food chain.  So you may have, almost like mercury in tuna fish and that kind of thing, where it might be low on the ground and then it gets concentrated in the grass and then the thing that eats the grass, the grasshopper might be more radioactive, and finally it works it's way up into the larger animals.  Your rabbit will be eating the vegetables that are sucking up the radiation from the soil.  So it will gradually work it's way up into top of the food chain animals and whatever it is that eats that rabbit, of course, is going to concentrate that radiation even more.  So what is happening now is that the plant is emitting a little bit of radiation every day, but by US standards it would be emitting more in a day than a normal US plant emits in the course of a year even now, but by the accident standards, it is much reduced.  But there is so much of these fission products, those pieces of uranium left over that are lying on the ground, that they are working their way into the food chain and they are working their way into the food chain through the grass that is absorbing it and going up and being eaten by cattle.  It is also being washed off into riverbeds, so we are starting to see it in freshwater fish, forget the ones that are out in the ocean.  We are seeing it there too.  There is a reservoir that feeds Tokyo now and the fish that are in that reservoir are so contaminated that they are on catch and release.  I mean you can do it for sport, but do not eat them.

Denny Smith:  Arnie Gundersen joins me from Vermont.  He is a nuclear engineer, he is a nuclear safety engineer and we are talking about Fukushima.  When we come back, we are going to talk about those standards.  We are also going to talk about . . . Arnie was just over there very shortly, a couple, three weeks ago, and he took some soil samples randomly throughout Tokyo.  When we come back, we are going to find out what he did, what he found and what are the implications to us here in the United States.  My name is Denny Smith along with Arnie Gundersen, right here on 93 WIBC.

Denny Smith:  Good evening once again.  You are listening to 93 WIBC.  It's The Denny Smith Show.  Tonight we are talking about a nuclear catastrophe that took place in Fukushima.  That is in the northern provinces of Japan.  It was the worst nuclear disaster that has befell any nation and certainly in the history of this type of energy generation, it is the worst that we have had.  Arnie Gundersen is a nuclear engineer.  He has spent a lifetime in the nuclear industry.  He is a safety expert.  He serves as Chief Engineer at Fairewinds Associates in Burlington, Vermont.  Fairewinds Associates is an energy consulting company.  He is, again, a licensed operator, did I get that right?  that means you are allowed to operate the plants, or at one point you could?

Arnie:   Yes, that is right.

Denny Smith:  All right, now, you were over in Tokyo and you took some samples,  I am assuming you were over there for some sort of conference about this event, or anyway, you found yourself there and you started taking soil samples.  Tell me what you were doing.

Arnie:  Actually, we wrote a book, my wife and I, and it is in Japanese only.  And I was over there with the publisher.  I met with the Tokyo Press Association one day and a group of the Bar Association another day and on different days we met with different organizations.  So I was essentially just walking through Tokyo.  And I said, I have got 5 days, I am going to take 5 samples.  The first day I was walking, I said, there is a crack in the sidewalk, let's pull that sample up, so I pulled the grass out and put that in a bag and marked a location.

Denny Smith:  Now did you want to get somewhat subterranean at that point, you wanted to get below the surface level?

Arnie:  It was a crack in the sidewalk; I was not digging down very far, I was trying to get that dirt from the first inch of soil essentially.  So that the first day I found this crack in the sidewalk, we took that dirt and put it in a bag.  The second day on the way to the publisher, we were walking through a school yard, and these kids were running around being kids, throwing rocks at each other and all, and I said well let's take a sample here.  So I took a sample from the dirt in the schoolyard.  And the third day, I was at a Shinto shrine and there was some moss on the side of the road and I said, well let's take a sample there.  The fourth day was in front of their judicial center and I just went over to the side of the sidewalk, I was walking on the sidewalk, and I said, let's take a sample here.  And the last day, there is an employee lunch area on the roof of one of these buildings and they had a couple little trees in these little pots and I said, let's take a sample there.  So it was not like I was looking for that magic tarp that was loaded with . . .

Denny Smith:  All right, so this is fairly random, and in as much integrity as a scientist can handle, you were trying to find random spots.

Arnie:  Right.

Denny Smith:  All right.

Arnie:  So I brought them back.  This is not something that a little geiger counter can detect.  I did have more clicks on my geiger counter than normal, but I could not tell what was really in it with the geiger counter.  So I brought them back.  I triple bagged them through customs and I declared them, because if you are bringing dirt back into America they are worried about mad cow and all that, so I declared them, they checked them and they let me through.  And then I sent them to the lab.  And the lab analyzed the concentrations at around 7,000 clicks, 7,000 disintegrations for every 2 pounds of soil.  And I know it came from Fukushima because there are 2 isotopes, cesium 137 and cesium 134 that appeared together and if it was from the bomb or if it was from Chernobyl, you would only see cesium 137.  So I knew it was Fukushima radiation.  So the question now is, what does that mean?  There are 35,000,000 people in metropolitan Tokyo and what it shows me is that it is a public health concern.  Everybody is exposed to this radiation, it is on your shoes when you tie your shoe laces, it's in the air when . . . You will see it when you get a windy day in Tokyo, you will see the radiation detectors go up.  And so they are all breathing it in and it will increase the relative incidence of cancer over the next 30 years.  There is just no way to avoid it.

Denny Smith:  I have been reading what I am considering to be recommendations from our authorities here in the United States.   There are those such as my acquaintance in Oregon, that has been reading higher levels, or more clicks on his geiger counter.  And I am getting the feeling that the word from on high, I do not know if it is like this in Japan, but it is, well, let's change the rating of our geiger counters.  What used to be considered something to be of concern, for whatever reason, it is making everybody's geiger counter go off, and it's like, the alarms are going off, hey, can we turn off those alarms it is really getting to be a nuisance.  And so they are recalibrating something although the danger is still there.  They do not want the geiger counters to be so sensitive.  Am I getting that right?

Arnie:  Yes, they are moving the goalposts.

Denny Smith:  They are moving the goalposts.  I was trying to figure out a nice way to say it.  Thanks Arnie, that is what a scientist does.  A carpenter's kid gets sort of gets through that pretty quick.  The plumber's sort of struggles with it.  But yes, they are changing the game plan here.

Arnie:  Yes.  We have seen the initial criteria . . .  the Japanese are saying, do not worry, nobody is going to die immediately so you can stay here.  And then they said, well this area is too high to stay for long.  But the people had already been in that area for 2 months before they moved them out.  And now they are moving people back into areas of 2 rem per year, is the areas they are moving people back into, that is a measure of radiation, but they are moving families into areas of 2 rem, but the average guy in a nuclear plant doesn't even get 2 rem in a year's . . . so they are moving families back into areas that are more radioactive than I would be exposed to if I worked in a nuclear plant.

Denny Smith:  I have been reading the articles.  One reporter who has very consistently, from the Wall Street Journal, been writing about what is taking place in Fukushima-Daiichi about the frustration of the nuclear folks, the evacuees, and they are taking a harder line versus TEPCO.  The human ramifications of all this, before we get to the pending danger that is there.  This is not going to get any easier for these and I think that the patience of even the Japanese, who are some of the most patient people in the world.  It seems to me that they are about at the end of their rope.

Arnie:  Yes.  First off, they were quickly upset with Tokyo Electric.  This is a country that relies on order and integrity and respect.  And they are beginning to lose respect for their government.  Especially the women.  It is interesting because they are actually having radiation divorces because the women will want to take their family and kids and leave Fukushima Prefecture and the men say well the government says it is safe, we should stay because we need to trust our government.  So we are seeing actually a split in the sexes because the women are less trusting of their government than the men are.  It has already led to the downfall of one government.  The Kan government collapsed in the summer of last year and this new government is not really on a stable footing either.  Gorbachev said that in his memoirs, this is right from the horse's mouth, he said that it was not Perestroika that ruined Russia, the Soviet Union, it was Chernobyl.

Denny Smith:    Chernobyl was in Ukraine.

Arnie:  So you have got a technology that has the potential to destroy social order in a country.

Denny Smith:  Joining me is Arnie Gundersen.  When we come back we will wrap up with Arnie. We are going to talk about where the danger is still, what it means to all of us in the United States of America and, indeed, it does mean something to us here in the United States.  I have been so grateful to have Arnie join us here this evening.  When we come back we will share with you where the dangers might be, what reactions might be appropriate.  This is not alarmist, this is common sense and we are doing our best to just be aware of what dangers are out there.  My name is Denny Smith along with Arnie Gundersen and you are listening to 93 WIBC.

Denny Smith:  You are listening to 93 WIBC.  Good evening.  Tonight we have been talking about a very serious subject.  It is a nuclear problem that is in Fukushima-Daiichi Japan.  Joining me, Arnie Gundersen, a nuclear engineer and a nuclear safety consultant from Fairewinds, which is in Burlington, Vermont.  Arnie, you have been so gracious with your time.  I cannot thank you enough.  I want to talk at this point about where the danger is.  As I have been telling you, I feel like a nerd.  Quite frankly, I have been watching YouTube and Tokyo Television and I am watching the close captioning and I am watching these engineers explain how we have to get these spent fuel rods out that are still a danger in a containment vessel that is very much susceptible to another earthquake.  We have got earthquakes going off every 24 hours there in northern Japan right now.  It scared the holy bejeebers out of me because they do not have an overhead crane.  How long is it going to take them to get those spent fuel rods out of 40' containment vessels, or how are we going to get our belt and suspenders, because right now, all we have got is our hand holding our pants up and we need to get something else to hold our pants up here.

Arnie:  That is absolutely right.  The problem is Unit 4, because Unit 4 has 1,500 of these nuclear fuel rods, nuclear fuel bundles rather, so you multiply that by a hundred, 150,000 nuclear fuel rods.  There is enough cesium in those rods that it would exceed the amount of cesium that was ever deposited from all of the bomb testing, those 800 bombs we fired up above ground.  So, you do not want to get that airborne.

Denny Smith:  So you are saying the worst case accident scenario . . . if the containment and water drained out and that became . . . if it actually melted down, we are talking . . . you said 800 atom bombs worth of radiation?

Arnie:  Yes, of cesium.  There is no containment.  The containment is destroyed.  So you can actually look in a satellite picture right into this nuclear pool where that fuel is.

Denny Smith:  How are they keeping water in it?

Arnie:  Well there is water on the bottom and they are pumping it in and it is draining out into the basement and they suck it out of the basement and they put it back in at the top.  So it is precarious.  Like you said, there are a lot of earthquakes now, many more than 4 years ago or 3 years ago.  So the concern is, if there is another earthquake, will Unit 4 withstand it?  It is already compromised.  So the plan is, they are going to build a building over the building.  And then they are going to put this big crane in and they are going to lift this fuel out.  But the problem is, as you said too, is time.  The earthquake is going to come when the earthquake wants to come.  So what we have to do, what the Japanese have to do as a country, but I think the world has to help, is to pull that fuel out as quickly as possible.  It cannot be like building a building in downtown Indianapolis, you take your time, you get your permits, whatever.  You have to go after it like it is a war and build something fast.

Denny Smith: You know you and I are pilots, is it possible, is there a helicopter strong enough to lift these rods out with control?

Arnie:  As soon as the rod got out of the water, the radiation in the helicopter would be so high that you would not want to be in that helicopter.

Denny Smith:  So how are they going to pull them out?  What are they going to transmit them to a small . . . boxes of water or containments of water and then truck them away?  What will they do?

Arnie:  What they will do is they will have . . . they will need two cranes.  They need a small crane to lift out these bundles, and that is the one we have been talking about.  But then they need a really heavy crane that can lift 100 tons.  And they will put these bundles into a giant drum that weighs 100 tons and seal it.  And then they will lift that out, and put that down on the ground and put it in another pool that is a couple hundred feet away, but it is at ground level, so it has not been compromised.  So there are a couple of lifts involved and they are heavy lifts.  These are huge cranes, especially that 100 ton one.  The one that was there is destroyed, the same with the one that was meant to pull those bundles out, that was destroyed.  So they need to put in the smaller crane to lift the bundles and then they need a bigger crane to lift the cask that those bundles are going to go in.

Denny Smith:  Arnie, most of my life I have been a proponent of nuclear power plants.  I really thought it was the solution.  I really believe that coal has been abandoned by, not only this administration, but a lot of politicians because it is considered dirty.  However, after reading all of the things that I have read, these same GE plants, or GE designs that were in Fukushima, are exactly the same designs that are in a lot of the plants here in the United States.  It is not that they are not safe.  It is that I do not think that we have thought out all of the potential disasters that could befall a plant.  And all of a sudden, I have really started to think twice about how I feel about nuclear power generation.  Is that unfair of me . . . or is this, the fact that these GE plants here in America are the same design . . . they are the same design, are they not, as Fukushima?

Arnie:  There are 23 of them that are essentially identical to Fukushima.   Indiana is downwind of a bunch of them.  There are a couple just south of Chicago at Dresden, and there is a couple a little further south at Quad Cities, and there is one out in Iowa.  So you have about 5 that you are downwind from that are essentially identical to Fukushima.

Denny Smith:  Well that is scary stuff.

Arnie:  I am on record as saying that those Mark I's should be shut down, because they were a series of bandaid fixes dating back to 1972.  There are letters in the NRC's files that say that we really never should have built these things.

Denny Smith:  Arnie, I do a commercial here in Indianapolis about replacing a sump pump.  And there is method to my madness here, and my attitude is that the useful life of the sump pump is anywhere from 3 to 5 years.  And if you have got something that is really dependent on that sump pump, go ahead and replace the sump pump in about 3 1/2 years, because you will save yourself untold disaster.  Now, unfortunately, the useful life, and you are the engineer here, but the original design criteria for a lot of these plants was 35 or 40 years.  Well now I am hearing that a lot of the companies want to extend the useful life beyond what design criteria were, and my attitude is that what happens if you get a flooded basement and that sump pump fails?  You understand where I am going with this?  We are going beyond our design limitations, are we not?

Arnie:  My attitude is that a deal is a deal.  We had a 40 year deal with these plants, and even though when we made the deal, we recognized that it was not a good idea, and these letters are on file from the NRC internally, that we never should have licensed this Mark I design.  But we got a deal.  So 40 years out it is now 2010.  All these plants are coming due for their new license.  God, they have made enough money over the 40 years to get their money out.  Why do we want to perpetuate it for those 23?  I am not talking about the 100 nuclear plants in the country, but those 23 that are of the Fukushima design.  I think it is time to say hey, a deal is a deal, thank you very much, 40 years, here is your gold watch, goodbye.

Denny Smith:  Arnie Gundersen, I cannot thank you enough for your time.  Tell sweet Maggie,  thanks for everything.   Butler University is still here if you guys ever want to make a homecoming.  My thanks to you.  If people need you, I believe the website is www.fairewinds.org.  Thank you for your time.  I send you all my best and believe me this old plumber here in Indianapolis is going to continue reading about Arnie Gundersen.  You are a great man.  Thank you, sir.

Arnie:  All right, thank you.

Denny Smith:  Thank you, sir.  Coming up, something I have been waiting to share with you.  I'm Denny Smith and there is something you need to hear, right here on 93 WIBC.