“Nature” Journal news blog: Did Fission continue at Fukushima after reactor shutdowns?


This a report from April 2011. Please visit the Nature site for full information.

At the time, the Japanese government, and all other governments, nuclear experts, and the supposed expert organisation IAEA were proclaiming that the afflicted reactors at Fukushima Diiachi had safely shut down, that there was no emission from them and that all was well. Nuclear critics were are claimed as confusing nuclear reactors with atomic bombs, when in fact the truth is all nuclear technology can produce nuclear pollution. Nuclear fallout is the weapon effect which is in common with reactors, whether at refueling or in accident mode. The reactor accident mode releases nuclear pollutants at vast scale in proportion to the mass of fuel rod involved. Bombs generate fission and fuel particle emissions for a brief time. As evidenced by Fukushima Diiachi fallout production and nuclear pollutant emissions can and do continue for years post accident.

It is pointless nuclear experts pretending nuclear pollutant emissions from Fukushima Diiachi ceased in March 2011. It is pointless pretending any reference to fallout transport, deposition and biochemistry, derived from the military documents of the nuclear era are irrelevant. They are relevant. A case in point is the US Army’s Special Weapon Project which estimated in 1955 that plankton in seawater concentrates nuclear contaminant radiochemicals many thousands of times. It was in 2013 that the new record for cesium per kg of fish body weight was recorded in a fish caught by TEPCO. The mechanism by which this bio accumulation has killed the afflicted fishing industry is not a mystery, it was fully and accurately described by the US military 58 years ago.

Nuclear industry is the most prolific nuclear polluter and has been since radium was first used for making luminous paint. The nuclear industry relies on the myth of progress and an impotent futurism to promote this old fashioned, dirty and deceptive industry. The original female dial painters, as they died of radium induced cancers, mainly of the face and jaw, were labelled as sluts suffering Syphilis by the nuclear industry in 1925. Today the Japanese authorities claim people suffering fatigue and other symptoms are “weak minded ” and that plutonium is safe to eat.

No progress there since 1925 is there?

“Nature” writes at the above link:

There is growing evidence that uranium and plutonium fuel at the Fukushima nuclear plant may have continued nuclear fission chain reactions long after the reactors were shut down almost three weeks ago. This worrying development may explain the continued release of some shorter-lived radioisotopes from the stricken site.

Tepco, the plant operator, said earlier this week that it had – on 13 occasions – detected beams of neutrons near the reactors. Neutrons are produced during fission of nuclear fuel, and are the key driver of the chain reaction that sustains continuous fission reactions in a reactor.

Japan Today reports that “the neutron beam was measured about 1.5 kilometers southwest of the plant’s No. 1 and 2 reactors over three days from March 13.”

The neutron beam didn’t pack much of a punch – if anyone got in its way, it would likely deliver a dose of just 0.01 to 0.02 microsieverts per hour. But the finding tallies with a recent analysis of other isotopes found at the plant, published in the Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus

Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress, at the James Martin Center for Non-Proliferation Studies of the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California, hones in on the significance of a very short-lived radioisotope, chlorine-38, in the water in the turbine building of reactor 1.

In an introduction to the analysis, Arjun Makhijani, president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, an energy and environment information-provider based in Takoma Park, Maryland, explains:

Chlorine-38, which has a half-life of only 37 minutes, is created when stable chlorine-37, which is about one-fourth of the chlorine in salt, absorbs a neutron. Since seawater has been used to cool [the reactors], there is now a large amount of salt – thousands of kilograms – in all three reactors. Now, if a reactor is truly shut down, there is only one source of neutrons – spontaneous fission of some heavy metals that are created when the reactor is working that are present in the reactor fuel. The most important ones are two isotopes of plutonium and two of curium.

But if accidental chain reactions are occurring, it means that the efforts to completely shut down the reactor by mixing boron with the seawater have not completely succeeded. Periodic criticalities, or even a single accidental one, would mean that highly radioactive fission and activation products are being (or have been) created at least in Unit 1 since it was shut down. It would also mean that one or more intense bursts of neutrons, which cause heavy radiation damage to people, have occurred and possibly could occur again, unless the mechanism is understood and measures taken to prevent it. Measures would also need to be taken to protect workers and to measure potential neutron and gamma radiation exposure.

There’s a great debate about the implications of all this going on over at Arms Control Work.


In this matter I recall an email exchange between Mr David Chanin, a New Mexico based nuclear decontamination expert, (David Chanin Consulting) and myself. While the exchange was mutually frustrating, we did persist in understanding each other as well as we could. (The exchange eventually got too much for me, but that is no reflection upon Mr Chanin.)

Mr Chanin is, I figure, big enough – without doubt – to disseminate his point of view without my help, and ditto for me. Mr Chanin is an example of open minded American inquiry and professional diligence within the sphere of independent nuclear expertise. As film maker David Bradbury stated, the issue is beyond Black hats and white hats, and the nuclear lay person ( ie the Downwinders of the planet – all of us) needs the nuclear expert. At a certain point the dichotomy of the official view and the ordinary person relies upon, in the end, the coupe de grace of the expert for validation in the law court. While noone has ever really won in court – for everything gets watered down and the Law Lords eventually do a Tommy by going deaf dumb and blind, the reality of Downwinders (forget about the mechanism, bombs or reactors, the fallout, essentially, is the same, though reactors are much longer lived and insidious sources of nuclear pollution than bombs) eventually does get through. Nuclear industry relies upon the conservatism of the ignorant to persist. If everyone was a Martha Bordoli Laird or an Aboriginal Australian who lived through the fifties, nuclear industry would shut down.

So at the time, I figured I should consider what Mr Chanin had to say even though we annoyed each other with our views of internal emitters.

Mr Chanins website is here: http://chaninconsulting.com/index.php

I figure he is a person who figures things out for himself from the basis of his knowledge base and on the basis of that which he believes. Just like everyone else. That said, in the final analysis, we didn’t get on. Here is one email he sent me:
What’s amazing to me is that I seem to be the only one who thinks that I-131 levels should
be decreasing with 8-day halflife because its only parents in the “standard NRC 60-nuclide
list for reactors” are Te-131and Te-131m, both with shorter halflives, so they can’t be
causing any I-131 buildup and certainly can’t cause the high levels of I-131 being reported in
the flood of measurements that were published by TEPCO all on April 19, with
measurements of seawater as far away as 15 km showing I:Cs rations of over 2:1 and as
high as 3:1, but sometimes they’re equal, with few to none where I-131 is
measured at levels less than Cs-134 and Cs-137 on a Bq/gram-water basis with 1000-
second counting time of 1-liter sample, which matches up with usage of a gamma
spectrometry machine like the GAM-AN1 by Canberra:
Can you do me a favor and ask one of your nuclear engineer contacts how and why I-131
can be over double the reported levels of Cs-134 and Cs-137, after five halflives of I-131?
I’m not a nuclear engineer who can try to run the Origen code for their reactors and the SNF
pools to see what could be making the I-131. I’m the consequence analyst who developed
the MACCS2 code and have used it and its predecessor MACCS since the 1980s for
nuclear accident analysis.
All I know is that when people use the MACCS2 code, which is the NRC-approved code for
reactor PRA consequence calculations, and is used worldwide for well over 500 nuclear
facilities and operations since its release in 1997, the MACCS2 code shows ZERO
consequences from I-131 from reactor accidents after 40 days of decay. It’s not just
the direct exposure doses from groundshine and inhalation, it’s also the food doses
calculated by the code with both of the “food models” that are available to the code user.
Milk from cows grazing during a large release shows very low levels of I-131 after 40
days according to the MACCS2 calculations.
And it’s also my understanding that “normal levels” of I-131 in SNF pools should be
practically zero, with the million-year, weak emitter, I-129 being the only iodine that should
be detected to any significant degree in SNF water from an intact pool under normal
operation. So, if my MACCS2 code is wrong about I-131, then all the safety analyses that
use to MACCS2 to calculate nuclear accident impacts are also wrong. That’s why this is an
important question.
Even if criticalities are ongoing, it’s impossible for me to imagine that they could be creating
so much I-131. I’ve used “standard decay tables” that all derive from ICRP 38 and were
calculated by Keith Eckerman, at ORNL, who calculates the internal and external DCFs for
US and international agencies which all rely on the ICRP 38 decay chains, where decay-
chain calcs are necessary because of the decay and buildup of progeny after an intake both
on the ground for deposited material and in the human body from inhlaed or ingested
I have not tried to use this database from KfK to solve the puzzle.:
So my question, which you can forward around with all the above ane below is: Why are the
I-131 levels of April 19 in “plant-water” and seawater from http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/index-
e.html so high after 5 halflives? The NRC says that the MACCS2 code is essentially error-
free. I’m curious if that’s true because I learned way back in school that there is no such
thing a bug-free large-scale software such as MACCS2, which has received little-to-none
verification and validation for complex scenarios.
I have no qualms whatsoever being known as the source of this request. I’ve never
pretended to know everything.
David Chanin
Re NYT article of April 5, 2011, “U.S. Sees Array of New Threats at Japan’s Nuclear
“Even so, the engineers who prepared the document do not believe that a resumption of
criticality is an immediate likelihood, Neil Wilmshurst, vice president of the nuclear sector
at the Electric Power Research Institute, said when contacted about the document. “I have
seen no data to suggest that there is criticality ongoing,” said Mr. Wilmshurst, who was
involved in the assessment.”

The above email is dated Friday, 22 April, 2011, 10:40 PM

I passed this email to a person I know, who is a friendly reactor worker at Oak Ridge. His response was to take it easy. And in my mind, the more extreme anti-bullshit people appear to be the better the nukers in charge like it. The average reactor worker wants a safe environment as much as everyone else. What is “safe” is the moot point.

I also passed the email to a contact in Japan. And the matter was commented upon by a British expert as a result.

Now, Mr Chanin and I tried to find (I think) a rationale explanation for the surprising data. An explanation which excluded the obvious. I thought up reasons based up isotope separation due to thermal reasons in sea water and inadequate monitoring methods. None of these were satisfactory to Mr Chanin, who quoted the extract from the New York Times above. Noone at the NRC it seems wanted to contemplate uncontrolled fission at Fukushima Diiachi, but it seems to me that this is in fact what occurred.

Hmm. I’ve read all three of your email replies. None of your theories conform with the physics
David. ”

If there was uncontrolled fission occurring at Fukushima Diiachi in April 2011, it is about time the IAEA up dated itself. Its about time Nuclear Industry updated itself.

All the way through the event we have heard from Japan how wonderful it is as competent nuclear authority, and all the way through we have seen indications that the responses to Fukushima Diiachi and the events there are genetic, not Japanese. We can certainly expect the same bullshit from nuclear authorities around the world in similar circumstances.

Meanwhile, independent thinking leads the self reliant thinker to conclude that “the inhalation hazard is under estimated in Japan” “It’s an uncontrolled experiment upon the children of Japan” “We will never know the truth about the events in Japan”.

They are not the merely the essence of my thoughts, but they are the essence of what an independent decontamination expert in the US thought in April – July 2011.

I see no reason to argue with David Chanin in those respects.

The economic imperative seems to me to be more important than the health physics ones to the Japanese nuclear authorities. I make this statement with qualified support from a US decontamination expert, though I hope in reporting this I am not aiding the propaganda arm of US nuclear authorities. Who, in the same situation of reactor as suffered in Japan, will probably try to pull the same information control stunts as the Japanese authorities surely have.

Now, is anyone still measuring fresh Iodine isotopes in either seawater or air around Fukushima Diiachi?

Apart from the self serving statements issued by the Japanese authorities, including their broadcast view that the atomic test era was perfectly safe, under cuts the just claims of nuclear veterans presented to the British courts and recently rejected by those courts.

And so I say, nuclear victims wishing to claim justice must realize the anarchy nuclear industry has created in this regard over the decades. There is an irrational resistance by the nuclear bodies.

People are expendable and individuals are expected the risks imposed for the protected and featherbed nuclear agents and agencies.

What is truth ?

A blog is not the ideal medium with which to carry out a time based study of events, proclamations of truth and what the truth actually was and is. Past posts get lost down the time line. I only react that which has been published. I might be wrong or right. Mine is just opinion. On the basis of history I can say with certainty that the truth presented by nuclear victims includes the fact that nuclear authorities hide the truth and seek to sow argument in populations so as to divide populations.

The fact is nuclear industry promotes itself as clean and green and it is neither and never have been. Normal routine reactor emissions are not safe, neither are the slag heaps at the world’s uranium mines. Nor the dump sites for nuclear waste which burden the world for millions of years.

Of course, the email exchange above raises questions which exist in relation to the confidential report by NRC, leaked to the New York Times and quoted by Mr Chanin.

Time to review that, I think.