Fukushima operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) was forced to switch off the cooling system at Reactor Unit 5, after engineers discovered it had been leaking water. If the system is not repaired within the next nine days, temperatures are expected to soar, Russian news site RT reported Sunday.As our readers might recall, our go to guy on Fukushima and spent fuel is Tom Kauffman, a former reactor operator from Three Mile Island. Here's what he wrote to me after I shared the Fox News link with him:
The used fuel has cooled to the point that even if all the water was lost, radiation levels would increase due to a loss of shielding, but there’s no way the fuel produces enough heat to damage itself let alone incinerate. A good rule of thumb: Even in a densely packed fuel pool, 107 days after fresh used fuel is placed in the pool, there is insufficient heat generation to cause fuel incineration even if all cooling water is lost.Tom also passed along the fact that the volume of water leaking from the pool is so small, that TEPCO could compensate for it by simply running a garden hose to the pool. This isn't the first time we've asked Tom to weigh in on rumors like this one, and we're sure it won't be the last.
UPDATE: NHK is now reporting that the cooling system for the spent fuel pool at Unit 5 has been restarted without incident. Congrats to the team at TEPCO for resolving the incident.
FINAL UPDATE: Here's the final word from TEPCO on the incident.