Plans for Fukushima Daiichi Reactor 4 cover revealed on same day TEPCO applied for 1 trillion yen injection of public funds

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In June 2011,  Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Associates was featured in a podcast hosted by Chris Martenson. The show updated listeners as to some of the latest events surrounding Reactor 4 and groundwater monitoring concerns, I will only highlight a few of the details, the entire podcast can be found here.

Chris Martenson: What can they really do beyond just keep trying to dump water in there and keep their fingers crossed?

Arnie Gundersen: If you put too much water in these reactors they get heavy, and they are not designed to sway when there is heavy – tens of tons of extra water in them. So they are really not designed to sway. So let’s say there is a severe aftershock, Unit 3 and Unit 4 are in real jeopardy.

Chris Martenson: Is there some way that they [TEPCO] can maybe just throw up their hands and just pour a bunch of concrete on it and call it a day?

Arnie Gundersen: I think eventually they may get to the point of throwing up their hands and pouring the concrete on.

They can’t do that yet, because the cores are still too hot. So we are going to see the dance we’re in for another year or so, until the cores cool down.

At that point, there’s not anywhere near as much decay heat and you probably could consider filling them with concrete and just letting sit there, like we have it at Chernobyl, as a giant mausoleum.

That would work for units 1, 2, and 3. Unit 4 is still a problem, because again all the fuel is at the top and you can’t put the concrete at the top because you will collapse the building and it’s so radioactive, you can’t lift the nuclear fuel out. I used to do this as a living and Unit 4 has me stumped.

Chris Martenson: So what do they do, do you think?

Arnie Gundersen: I think they will be forced to build a building around the building and then, because you need heavy lifting cranes – cranes that lift a hundred and fifty tons, which are massive cranes, to put the put the nuclear fuel into canisters, which then can get removed.

That is sort of what happened at TMI, but all of the fuel at TMI was still at the bottom of the vessel. But it was a three-year process to get the molten fuel out of Three Mile Island – four years actually.

So the problem here is that all of the cranes that do that have been destroyed, at least on units 1, 3, and 4. And you can’t do it in the air. It has to be done under water.

So my guess is that they will have to build a building around the building to provide enough shielding and water, so that they can then go in and put this fuel into a heavy lift canister.

Chris Martenson: Okay, all right, I hadn’t considered that. That’s a great insight.

Almost a full year later, anyone looking to verify Arnie’s observations about Reactor 4 will find once again they ring true, and TEPCO is in fact thinking of constructing a cover for Reactor 4.

On March 29, 2012 TEPCO announced that it applied for an injection of 1 trillion yen in public funds.

On the same day TEPCO, through NISA, released the details of a new steel frame structure to be built around Unit 4 for recovering the fuel rods from the pool.

The inverted L shaped structure will be self-supporting and only the part carrying the fuel handling mechanism will be bolted to the wall of Unit 4.

The design of the 51m tall structure, to be covered by steel panels, will be completed by the end of June and construction will start this fall.

In preparation for the construction the remaining parts of the outer shell, pillars and roof of the 5th floor on the north side of Unit 4 needs to be removed, and this work will be completed by the end of June.

The crane to lift the fuel from Unit 4 is expected to be manufactured in the third quarter of 2012.

The common spent fuel pool currently holds 6400 spent fuel rods, some of which are to be removed to make space for fuel from Unit 4. The removed fuel will be stored in dry casks at the plant site.

The common spent fuel pool is undergoing repair work to prepare for removal of its fuel. The dry casks to hold the removed fuel will be manufactured, and a facility to store the dry casks will be designed by the end of June.

The removal of fuel from the common spent fuel pool is planned to be completed through this year.

In the second quarter of 2013 the schedule calls for removing rubble from the spent fuel pool in Unit 4 and a detailed survey on the condition of the fuel contained will be conducted.

The actual lifting of the fuel rods from Unit 4 is planned toward the end of 2013.

The reason why there are so many fuel rods in Unit 4 and the common spent fuel pool is due to lack of space in the storage facility at Rokkasho, Aomori prefecture.

A nuclear waste processing plant with a new storage facility is under construction in Rokkasho. It was due to have been completed in 1997, but has been delayed 18 times due to various problems.

The latest projected completion date for the nuclear waste processing plant was October 2012, but it was delayed again after another problem was found in February.

Therefore, the fuel removed from the common pool has to be stored at Fukushima Dai-ichi for the time being.

A graphic illustration of the structure (without cover) by TV Asahi news:
A graphic illustration of the crane lifting fuel from the pool:
Construction schedule:

For more information on the Fukushima nuclear disaster and Fairewinds Associates please visit

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  1. I believe that the Japanese are going the cheap way by not filling what is left of the reactor #4 building with cement in order to create a vessel surrounding the SFP to guarantee that it cannot be damaged by a huge quake. If the corium below that SFP is too hot then they should extend the structural steel from the “new” building and create a new floor for the SFP. As shown, during a BIG quake the new structure will only act like a “can opener” to damage the older building since the new structure will be much stronger…


    1. TEPCO should be filling the entire #4 building with concrete ASAP in order to create a “Seismic Vessel” to completely encapsulate the SFP making it impossible for it to collapse, because the new “Seismic Vessel” would be one gigantic unit…

    2. TEPCO should have no less than 4 backup generators and 4 pumps that EACH could provide ENOUGH emergency power and water should ANYTHING happen to prevent the normal pumps from functioning. Note this includes protecting all the fuel, storage tanks, piping and controls so that it would make these pumps and their generators completely BOMB PROOF so nothing could prevent them from functioning 24/7/365 and then TEST ONE UNIT EVERY DAY UNDER ACTUAL LOAD, so that the on site workers become expert at shifting pumps!

    3. TEPCO should build and then fill enough tanks to provide standby cooling freshwater for at least one week, so that no matter what happens, the #4 SFP will be kept cool without using seawater, (which could serve as another backup source of water) if the freshwater proved to not be enough for some unknown reason!

  2. Fukushima SFP #4 another Pearl Harbor?
    by CaptD
    Saturday, 07 April 2012 13:58
    The day before Easter 2012, I’m reminded of an earlier warning about another historic disaster, the bombing of Pearl Harbor; and the still ongoing discussion about if the US Military and or US Gov’t. had any advanced knowledge of the attack (from intercepted code or even then high tech radar) but decided instead to “stand down” for geo-political reasons…

    Today, the meltdown of Fukushima’s reactor #4 spent fuel pool (SFP) is a potentially similar “event,” only this time, the Japanese UN Ambassador is warning US ahead of time, in no uncertain terms, and also even asking for our HELP to prevent it from happening! See the link below for much more.

    BTW: You probably have not been keeping up with the ongoing story about the 3/11/11 Fukushima reactor meltdown in Japan like I have, but this will bring you up to speed quickly… This is a huge “ADMISSION” by one of the Senior Japanese Officials that is frustrated by their Governments “nuclear denial”…

    Ambassador Murata writes to UN Secretary General: ?It is no exaggeration to say that the fate of Japan and the whole world depends on No. 4 reactor? – Appeals for independent assessment team
    “If Fukushima’s SFP #4 collapses it will pollute the Earth”,
    So please read the above article and learn more about it if you don’t know already.

    Japan is allowing TEPCO to put Life on Earth at RISK…

    If the SFP (Spent Fuel Pool) in #4 collapses or fails to be kept cool FOR ANY REASON, in a very short time, all the fuel rods in it will destroy themselves by becoming a huge molten mass. This new radioactive mass will make the ENTIRE Fukushima complex (including reactors #5 and #6 (and their SFP’s) into not only the Worlds biggest nuclear disaster but it will be so radioactive that the entire complex will be off limits to humans! This new uncontrollable molten mass will spew so much radioactivity (and keep doing so for the rest of our lives) that it will change life as we know it, because it will be spread Globally by the jet stream and or Ocean currents.

    BTW: If you have not seen the 1959 movie “On the Beach” you should, it describes a very similar situation…

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