March 16th, 2011 – Unit 4 SFP walls have collapsed – Fuel may no longer be intact

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From: Boska, John
Sent: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 11:31 AM
To: Guzman, Richard
Cc: Pickett, Douglas
Subject: Developments in Japan
Importance: High

Rich, please review and comment, for distribution to our branch.

In a briefing with Joe Giitter that just ended, we were informed that the situation is now much worse in Japan. The walls of the Unit 4 spent fuel pool have collapsed, and there is no water in there. There were a large number of fuel assemblies in the pool, and the fuel may no longer be intact. The radiation levels are increasing so much that it may prove difficult to work on the other 5 reactors at the site, which could lead to more fuel damage and releases.

The NRC plans to man the Operation Center (OC) 24/7 for a long period of time, and other NRC task groups are being established. A generic communication is being prepared to go to our licensees. Joe Giitter will be working an 8 hour shift in the OC (3pm-1 1pm), but he will try to be in his office for a couple of hours each day before going to the OC. Allen Howe has been assigned to help prepare for a Commission’ meeting on reactor safety. Nelson has been assigned to lead a communications team for NRR.

If you have BWR or spent fuel expertise, and would like to volunteer for a shift in the OC, please let me know. They are trying to set up a rotation of working 4-5 days, 8 hours per shift, then a couple of days off. Also, as more of our technical experts get assignments, it may be difficult to complete licensing actions. Giitter and Nelson recognize this, and said that the Japanese response will take priority over the metrics.’ Also, Harold Chernoff is compiling a list of licensing actions (ready to be issued) that may be sensitive (spent fuel pool rerack, reduced containment testing, etc.) that will have to be approved by the NRR LT prior to issuance. Please let Harold know if you have anything that may meet the criteria.

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March 23rd, 2011 – Suspect 3 ft of salt in bottom of reactor vessel – SFP lasted 3 days