There has been a spate of online posts and articles claiming that the failure of the used fuel storage pool at Fukushima Daiichi Unit 4 could result in: “a big explosion, a meltdown in the pool, or a large fire,” that could have widespread health effects all over the world. These claims are false and irresponsible. Consider the facts:
- If for any reason there was a rapid loss of water from the Unit 4 storage pool exposing all of the used fuel to air, the used fuel can’t catch fire or melt because it has been cooled for more than two and-a-half years and no longer generates enough heat to damage itself. The used fuel in the pools at the other three damaged Fukushima units is even older and colder.
- By design, it is physically impossible for the fuel in any commercial reactor in Japan or the U.S. to explode like a nuclear weapon. It’s impossible because the concentration of uranium in the fuel is far too low to cause a nuclear explosion. And there’s nothing that can be done at a site to change that.