Friday, April 26, 2019

Fukushima Daiichi Unit 3 Fuel Removal Seems to Have Stirred Up Hot Corium: Are Plant Workers Being Protected?

Earlier this month TEPCO reported fuel removal activities underway at Unit 3's spent fuel pool at the ruined and unmitigated Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant (see

I have noticed previously that TEPCO's efforts to retrieve fuel lead to increased visible emissions from the unit where the work is being performed.

For example, when TEPCO tried to remove fuel samples from Unit 2 the emissions visible on the TEPCO 1 webcam (trained on units 1 and 2) increased measurably.

Now, TEPCO'S fuel removal from unit 3's spent fuel pool is coinciding with higher emissions from unit 3 and from the common spent fuel pool building.

Here is a screenshot of unit 3 (large building on right) and the common spent fuel building (foregrounded low building on right between cranes) from April 5, 2019:

Here is a screenshot from today:

In these two cases, I have observed a pattern where activity increases visible emissions (regardless of weather conditions).

It can be inferred from this pattern that at least some melted fuel in reactors 2 and 3 remains extremely hot and that efforts to decommission the plant are troubled.

TEPCO recently announced plans to hire thousands of workers to help decommission Daiichi, raising concerns about human rights given the inevitable radiation exposures involved in on-site work (see here ).

My understanding is that workers will be given 5 year work-stays, but the concern is that illnesses caused from exposure won't be detectable within this limited time frame.

Workers at Fukushima Daiichi and other irradiated zones who labor to contain and decontaminate the world's radioactive legacies should be treated as GLOBAL HEROES rather than disposable automatons.

The UN should set up a fund that is involuntarily financed by the world's nuclear powers.  That fund should be administered with the intent to track and support former workers and their families.

Special rapporteurs should visit nuclear work sites to ensure that worker exposure is minimized and that their health and well-being protected.

To the workers at Fukushima Daiichi I send out my concern and appreciation for all of your efforts to contain this seething pile of radioactive waste.


  1. Nuclear fuel removed from crippled Japan Fukushima plant.

    [excerpted] Engineers needed time to clear earthquake debris inside the building, while overcoming various other technical challenges, said TEPCO spokeswoman Yuka Matsubara.

    “We had to proceed carefully [to remove debris], and we needed to take measures as dust would waft up and increase radiation readings,” she told AFP.

    1. Thank you for that explanation, Majia, for the recent activity of plumes and strange looking emissions from yesterday. I, too, think these workers should be regarded as global Hero's my love and appreciation goes out to them

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