Thursday, September 22, 2011

USA Today Errs on Condition of Spent Fuel Pools at Fukushima

We've seen a few recent instances of reporters incorrectly stating the fuel in the pools melted. That's incorrect, as the AP reported earlier this year. However, the misconception persists. USA Today included the following in a story published earlier today:
Spent nuclear fuel pools that burned during the crisis are now under control.
The spent nuclear fuel assemblies at Fukushima never burned or melted, and in fact, were always underwater. Here's a more accurate description of the accident from the consultants at Advanced Nuclear Energy Systems. You can find this description on page 9 of the report:
Disablement of spent fuel pool cooling and the possibility of earthquake-induced damage to the pools were the cause of great concern, which spurred one-week-long unconventional cooling efforts with helicopters and water cannons. While it was later established that the fuel assemblies in the pools remained underwater throughout the accident, the Fukushima experience does underscore the importance of reliable long-term cooling and protection of the spent fuel pools at nuclear plants.
We're sending a note to USA Today asking for a correction. Stand by for updates.

UPDATE: USA Today has informed us that they'll run a clarification that the fuel rods didn't burn. The correction should be appended to the online version of the story and run on page 2A or 3A in the newspaper.

4 comments:

Pete said...

The USA Today on-line version says: "The fires at the spent nuclear fuel pools, which ignited hydrogen, but did not burn the spent fuel rods, are now under control." This appears to be different than the original, but is still not correct, is it? There were no spent fuel pool fires. The Unit 4 explosion is now thought to be from H2 leakage from Unit 3.

SteveK9 said...

Guess they just couldn't give up on the word 'fire'.

Brian Mays said...

Good to see you back, Eric.

gunter said...

Hey did you guys catch that the 2.5" fuel rod fragment found 1.5 miles away was core material ejected by a hydrogen explosion?

During early days, some folks though these fuel fragments laying around on site in between the units were from the fuel pools.

It wasn't until NRC's Gary Hollihan identified in one of those NRC Task Force public meetings that the iodine-131 signature on some of the fragments could only have come from a core ejection.

To get that kind of trajectory, it would seem that one of the reactor pressure vessel heads would have had to be dislodged by the explosion.