Fukushima Groundwater Contamination Worst in Nuclear History

A report from the Japanese Nuclear Safety Commission Ex-Secretariat, Dr. Saji, credits the current status of the accident to "luck". Gundersen discusses what could have happened if the wind had been blowing inland.



Arnie Gundersen: I'm Arnie Gundersen from Fairewinds and it's Friday, May 6th.

Couple of things I wanted to talk to you about today. They all relate to releases from the plant. The first one is airborne releases from the plant. The second is the explosion at Unit 3, a little follow up on that. And the last topic of the day is liquid releases.

The first topic is airborne releases.  You'll recall that I've said several times in print and then on TV that the Japanese are lucky that the wind was blowing out to sea most of the time during this accident and not across the island.  I just received an email just yesterday from a Dr. Saji.  He's a former member of the Japanese Atomic Nuclear Safety Commission, and he's highly respected in Japan.  I wanted to read you what he had to say about what I have been saying now for the last six weeks. He said two things.   "We were just lucky due to the favorable meteorological conditions during the entire development of the accident. "  And then a little further down in this report, he writes one report a day, and has since the accident began.  He says, "We were very lucky even with a large release from Fukushima 3, due to the most severe hydrogen explosion, that could have induced a heavy land contamination.  This resulted from the wind direction toward the sea at the time of the release, although this must have resulted in a wider ocean contamination far from the Fukushima unit."  Well, that's pretty strong words for a senior member of the Japanese nuclear establishment.  But it is about five or six weeks later than I recognized it.

Now why is this important?  It's important for a couple of reasons.  First, is that had the wind been blowing across the island instead of out to sea, we would have had an exclusionary area, like Chernobyl's, all the way across the island of Japan.  Now what would have happened is that roads heading north to south, major roads would have been cleaned and you could have travelled from the north to the south.  But as far as getting out of your car or living in that area, that would have been impossible.  Certainly the Japanese were very lucky that the wind predominantly was blowing out to sea.

Related to that though, is the spin that I believe will be put on this issue by nuclear power companies around the world.  And they'll of course say, look at this accident at Fukushima, there really weren't the fatalities we would have expected.  Well, the problem there is that the wind was blowing out to sea.  And the other problem is, as Dr. Wing discussed about a week and a half ago.  What you've done is you haven't eliminated the cancers, you have spread them out in a world wide population so that really it may be more hard to determine whose cancer is a Fukushima cancer and whose is not.  But it hasn't reduced the number of cancers.  It certainly has saved the Japanese living near the reactor enormously.

The other thing that Dr. Saji said was, and this I found really important, was that the explosion at Unit 3 being blown out to sea must have resulted in wider ocean contamination far from the Fukushima plant.

Which leads me into the second point, and that's the condition of the Fukushima 3.  You'll recall I had a long video on that about a week and a half ago.  I've gotten a lot of emails, very thought provoking emails at that.   All of them agree on a couple of things.  That there was a hydrogen explosion, there's no doubt.  But it wasn't entirely a hydrogen explosion.  And that was a detonation, it was not a deflagration.  I'm interested, though, in some of the other pieces that have come out since then, that viewers have sent me, some great discussion points.

The first is that, I was sent a frame by frame analysis of the explosion.  In that, if you look at the fire.  That's on the south side, on the right side of the building.  The flame moves out further to the right, but it also moves straight up on the left side.  Well to me, that confirms it is the fuel pool, because that is exactly where the fuel pool should be.  The outside wall of the fuel pool shows damage which would indicate that the explosion pushed the outside wall and travelled up.  On the inside wall, which would have been stronger as it abutted the containment, it moved straight up.  So take a look at the first two frames of that and you'll see what I mean how the flame goes up on the left but heads out and further south on the right.  So that tells me it's the fuel pool.  The other thing that tells me it's the fuel pool is that this started as a hydrogen explosion but a hydrogen explosion could not have lifted the fuel out of the reactor.  And that is because the reactor is in a deep pit and hydrogen is lighter than air.  So there is no way that if hydrogen had been floating above, there is no way it could have gotten underneath the fuel and lifted it up.  So everyone who has written to me agrees that there was a violent explosion at the bottom of the pool lifting it up and there has been some disagreement about what could have caused that.  I've gotten a great discussion about a chemical reaction that could have involved uranium, plutonium and zirconium in the fuel that could lift the fuel up like that.  That is a possibility.  We need some more data to prove that.  I had another person say that  plutonium melts at a lower point than uranium and felt that there was a pool on the bottom of the reactor.

Now in my presentation last time I talked about a criticality too, prompt criticality.  I need to talk a little about what that means to differentiate between a couple of theories here.  When a uranium atom splits, it creates fission products, daughter products and about two and a half neutrons.  On average, most of those neutrons shoot out and are called prompt neutrons.  A few of them take their time, they have to have their coffee in the morning before they head out.  They are called delayed neutrons.  Normally a nuclear reactor works on the fact that these delayed neutrons are what perpetuates the reaction.  But as I've said, I think that this reaction was caused by prompt neutrons.  One of the readers suggested that we could have had nuclear bomb at the bottom of the reactor because the plutonium would melt differentially from the uranium.  Now for that to happen, there would have to be a puddle at the bottom and a complete melting of the fuel and I'm not sure that the evidence suggests that.  So my theory is that there WAS a prompt reaction but it wasn't like a bomb.  They weren't traveling fast but that they slowed down in water and the criticality is called prompt but it's also called moderated.  A prompt moderated reaction would certainly create just as much power as all of the other examples I have given you.  There are two examples in history of this happening, these prompt moderated reactions.

The first is at a reactor called SL1 out in Idaho.  There some operators were working on the control rods and one of the control rods blew through an operator and impaled the operator on the ceiling.  That is an example of a prompt criticality.  It HAS happened before and I think it happened again at Fukushima 3.  I wanted to let you know as readers that i still believe my theory is correct, but there are some competing ways that a violent reaction in a fuel pool could cause a similar issue.

Finally on Unit 3, it is still possible that the reactor and containment could have been breached.  Many viewers feel that that is the case.  I don't because all of the data coming out of Fukushima now indicates that the pressure and temperature inside the containment and reactor are still in reasonable ranges.  So I discount that, not because of the violence of the reaction but because data since then seems to indicate that the containment is intact.

Finally today, I wanted to talk about liquid releases from the reactor.  Just yesterday, Fukushima 5 and 6, (now they are a long way away from Fukushima 1, 2 and 3), were still pumping radioactive water out of the basement of the turbine halls.  Well, what that tells me is that the groundwater on site is contaminated.  In order for groundwater to be contaminated, there has got to be a leak in one of the containments.  Remember all this water is being poured in on the nuclear reactor and is now lying in the bottom of the containment.  We know Unit 2's containment is breached and we know that water has gone into trenches all over the site.  I don't think all of the leaks have been fixed.  It would be hard to imagine all of the leaks being fixed.  The big one that headed out to the ocean is but I am not convinced that all of the leaks have been fixed.  Which means that water is seeping into the ground table and there will be contamination on that site for a long time to come.  It could also move inland.  This is groundwater; it doesn't have to move out to the ocean.  It is clearly moving to the north.  So ground water contamination on Fukushima will probably be the worst we have ever seen in nuclear history.

The second thing is, within the Fukushima prefecture, one town is now reporting radioactive sewage sludge.  I don't know how that got there.  Clearly that is a very disturbing issue.  It could come from ground water.  It could come from rain runoff.  But it is a major concern.  Now that sewage sludge was sold as construction material and has been shipped out of the Fukushima area.  So some of the radioactivity is now going to have to be chased down, where it went as cinder blocks, and concrete blocks.  They will have to be recovered.  But that is a major concern that we will have to keep track of.

And finally today I wanted to talk about the Greenpeace ship called the Rainbow Warrior.  It has asked for permission from the Japanese government to sample the waters within 12 miles of Fukushima, which are Japanese territorial waters.  The Japanese have refused to allow the Rainbow Warrior in.  Given the lack of the forthcoming nature of TEPCO's data.  I'm saddened that Greenpeace cannot be getting independent data on it's own ship.

Lastly about independent data,  the EPA has shut down all of it's post Fukushima air inspection stations and is not inspecting fish as well.

I think if there is anything that you and I as citizens can do, it can be a press congress to make sure that the EPA is continuing a robust sampling of data coming out of Fukushima.

Thank you very much and I will get back to you soon.


事福島第一原子力発電所 原発史上最悪の地下水汚染

元原子力安全委員会委員のサジ博士の報告で、原発事故の現状は不幸中の幸いだとしています。ガンダーセン氏 が風向きが内陸へ向かっていた場合どうなっていたかを検討します。

フェアウィンズのアーニー・ ガンダーセン  です。今日は5月6日、金曜日です。 今日はお話したいことが幾つかあります。すべて原発からの放射能の放出に関連しています。 1つ目は放射能空気中拡散について、2つ目は3号機の爆発について、そして最後に汚染水漏れについてお話します。 最初に放射能空気中拡散についてお話します。私は原発では風が内陸ではなく海へ吹いているのは幸いであったと、新聞で幾度か、そしてテレビでも申し上げて参りました。昨日私はサジ博士からメールで報告書を受け取りました 。サジ博士は元原子力安全委員会委員であり、日本国内でも非常に尊敬されています。この6週間の私の発言について博士は報告書に2つの点を挙げています。1つ目は、"我々は、原発事故全体が進行中、気象条件が有利でとても幸運であった。" 博士は事故が起きてから毎日報告書を一枚書いていますが、同じ報告書のもう少し後に、2つ目を書いています。"我々は、大規模な土壌汚染を引き起こしかねなかった3号機の最も深刻な水素爆発による放射能漏れでも、大変幸運だった。これは、風向きが放射能放出時に海上に向かっていたからである。一方、海の汚染は福島第一から遠く離れた海域まで及んでしまった。" 元委員のサジ博士のこの発言はとても強いものです。しかし私が5、6週間前に既に気づいていた事です。

な ぜこの博士の発言が重要なのでしょう。理由はいくつかあります。まず第一に、チェルノブイリの放射能拡散は内陸だったのと比べると、日本は海上への放射能 拡散が主だったため、本州全域には及びませんでした。もしそうであったら、南北へ走る道路周辺は、幹線道路は除染できても、車外にでたり住む事は不可能に なっていたでしょう。殆どの場合風が海上に吹いていた日本は大変幸運だったと言えるでしょう。


もう一つ、 サジ博士が挙げていることは、3号機の爆発が海側に向かい、放射能汚染が遠方の海洋まで広がったであろうということです。これは大変重要な点です。


第 一に、私は爆発のビデオの詳細分析を受け取りましたが、爆発の炎を見ると、炎は原子炉建屋の右、南側で起こっているのがわかります。炎はそれからさらに右 側へ広がっていきますが、左側にもまっすぐ伸びています。そこは間違いなく核燃料保管プールの場所なのです。なぜならそこが核燃料プールがあるべき場所で あるからです。プールの外壁の損傷をみると、爆発は外壁を押して、上へ向かったのがわかります。一方、内壁は格納容器に隣接していたため外壁より強化され ていたのでしょう、爆発は上へ向かっています。最初の二つのコマを見ていただければ、左側の炎は上へ、右側の炎は飛び出してからさらに南方へ向かったのが わかります。これで燃料プールが爆発したのだとわかります。さらに、水素爆発はこの燃料プールが原因であったのだとわかります。しかし、この水素爆発で原 子炉内の核燃料が外へ飛ばされることはありません。なぜなら、原子炉は深い穴に入っており、水素は空気より軽いからです。ですから、水素ガスが上に溜って いたのであれば、核燃料の下から押し上げて爆発することは不可能だったのです。皆さんの意見は、燃料プールの底で上方向への激しい爆発があったことに関し ては一致しております。が、その原因については異論もありました。私は、燃料のウラン、プルトニウム、ジルコニウムが化学反応を起こして燃料が飛び散って しまったかもしれないと議論しました。これは一つの可能性です。証明には更なるデータが必要です。プルトニウムはウランよりも低い温度で融けるため、原子 炉の底に落ちて溜っているのではないかと考える方もいらしゃいました。

さて、前回私は即発臨界についてもお話しました。ここで幾つかの違いについて少しお話したいと思います。ウラン原子が核分裂すると、核分裂生成物、娘核種、そして2個か3個の中性子が生まれます。ほとんどの中性子は直後に放出され、即発中性子と呼ばれています。時間をかけて放出される中性子もわずかにあり、それは遅発中性子と呼ばれています。通常、この遅発中性子が核分裂の制御に役立ち、原発はうまく働くのです。しかし、3号機で発生したのは即発中 性子だと私は思うのです。プルトニウムはウランとは融け方が違うので、原子炉の底で核爆発を起こした可能性もあると推測する視聴者がおりました。それに は、燃料が底に溜り、さらに完全に溶解した状態でなければなりません。証拠をみるとそうであったかはわかりません。私は、即発臨界はあったが、核爆発のよ うな爆発ではなかったと考えます。中性子は早く動いてはおらず、水中で減速し、臨界は即発であったと同時に減速されていたのだと思うのです。このような反 応は例示した爆発と同規模の力を作り出すでしょう。このような反応は過去に2度程起きています。

一つはアイダホ州のSL-1原 子炉で起こりました。作業員等が制御棒の操作中に、制御棒の火一本が吹き飛んできて作業員の一人に刺さり、そのまま天井に釘付けにしてしまったのです。こ れは即発臨界の例です。過去に起きたように、福島でも起きたのだと私は考えます。私は今もこの見解が正しいと信じておりますが、他にも似通った爆発を引き 起こす激しい反応が燃料プール内で起こった可能性もあります。

3号 機について最後に触れますが、原子炉と格納容器が破損している可能性が未だに残っています。多くの視聴者の 方々はそう考えているようです。私はそうは考えません。なぜなら福島原発の現在のデータはすべて、原子炉と格納容器内の温度と圧力が、ある程度保たれてい ることを示しているからです。激しい爆発反応があったからではなく、今までのデータから判断して、私は格納容器が破損しているとは考えません。

本日の最後に、原子炉からの漏えいについてお話したいと思います。まず、昨日も、5・6号機(1・2・3号 機からかなり離れています。)のタービン建屋の地下から放射性物質を含む水が移送されていましたが、これは、施設の地下水も汚染されているということで す。地下水の汚染は、格納容器の一つが破損しているということです。原子炉に注水されてきた水は、今や格納容器の底に溜っています。ご存知の通り、2号機の 格納容器は破損しています。ですので、汚染水が施設中のトレンチに流失しているのです。私は汚染水の流失が完全に止まったとは思いません。すべての場所か ら汚染水の流失を食い止められるとは考え難いからです。海に向かっている大量の汚染水に関しては止まりましたが、すべての場所から汚染水の流失が止まった との確信は持てません。つまり、汚染水は地下水面に しみ出てしまっているので、施設周辺はこれからも長期間汚染されてしまうことになるのです。地下水は内陸方面へ移動するかもしれません。地下水ですから、 常に海へ流れているとは限りません。はっきりと北へ移動しています。福島の地下水汚染はおそらく原発史上最悪となるでしょう。

第 二に、福島県内で下水処理施設の汚泥に放射能物質が検出された報告がありました。汚染の経緯はわかりませんが、これは明らかに心配な問題です。地下水の可 能性もありますし、雨が降ったからかもしれません。いずれにせよ、これは大変憂慮すべき問題です。この汚泥は建築材料として売られ、県外へ運ばれていまし た。そしてコンクリートブロックとして売られていたものもあるため、追跡調査を行い、回収する必要があります。この問題は注意深く見守っていく必要があり ます。 本日最後に、グリーンピースの船、レインボー・ウォリアーについてお話したいと思います。グリーンピースは、福島原発から12マイル内の海水サンプルの採取許可を日本政府に申請しました。そこは日本の領海内ですが、日本の政府は申請を退けました。 TEPCO東電の情報公開が不十分であることを考えると、グリーンピースが独立したデータを採集できないのはとても残念に思います。