Fukushima – China Syndrome?

This is the first that i have read of the potential for a core escape into the earth’s crust at Fukushima. In an article on Fukushima Diary, Uehara Haruo, called the Architect of Reactor 3, warns of a potential for hydrovolcanic explosion. I read a translation of the source page for this information at the livedoor site. Piecing the Google translation bits together it seems that a journalist asked if Mr. (Dr.?) Haruo thought a China Syndrome event was possible and Haruo answered: “I think it is inevitable.”

Now this seems to me not to be based on fact, hence take it with a skeptical mindset. As of now, we do not have pictures or video from under Reactor 3. It is possible that we will get later confirmation of leakage of core materials into the basement areas under Reactor 3 but we probably will not get any Elephant’s foot pictures.

Chernobyl Elepants foot. Note the blue helmeted worker. These workers died from radiation poisoning shortly after.

Arnie Gundersen at Fairewinds.com has recently anaysed pictures from Tepco of work on Reactor 3. He thinks that the spent fuel rods in the fuel pool went critical after tsunami caused the breakdown of the electrical and cooling systems. This criticality was the cause of the explosion at Reactor 3. However, he also analyzes video footage that suggests that the containment was ruptured as well.

As we noted back in May 2011 there is ample evidence that the containment and the reactor vessel of Reactors 1 and 3 are breached. There is plutonium in the environment around Fukushima and there has been confirmation that the cores have melted, causing the zirconium to react and create the hydrogen which caused or propagated the explosions in the reactors blowing apart the buildings.

You may not remember the thriller-cataclysm 1979 B-Movie “The China Syndrome” starring Jack Lemmon, Jane Fonda and Michael Douglas, but it gave rise to the naming of the catastrophic meltdown, reactor vessel breaching, sinking into the earth of hot molten corium. Wikipedia has a nice historical bit on the etymology:

In 1971, in the article Thoughts on Nuclear Plumbing, former Manhattan Project (1942–1946) nuclear physicist Ralph Lapp used the term “China syndrome” to describe a possible burn-through, after a loss of coolant accident, of the nuclear fuel rods and core components melting the containment structures, and the subsequent escape of radioactive material(s) into the atmosphere and environment; the hypothesis derived from a 1967 report by a group of nuclear physicists, headed by W. K. Ergen.[6] In the event, Lapp’s hypothetical nuclear accident was cinematically adapted as The China Syndrome (1979).

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