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Japan

No Fuel In the Fukushima Reactor #1 234

An anonymous reader writes To nobody's surprise, the Japanese press reports that a new way to look at the inside of one of the Fukushima 1 damaged reactors has shown the fuel is not in place. Engineers have not been able to develop a machine to directly see the exact location of the molten fuel, hampered by extremely high levels of radiation in and around the reactors, but a new scan technique using muons (details on the method in the media are missing) have shown the fuel is not in its place. While Tepco's speculation is that the fuel may be at the bottom of the reactor, it is a safe bet that at least some of it has burned through and has gone on to create an Uruguay syndrom.
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No Fuel In the Fukushima Reactor #1

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  • What on earth (Score:5, Insightful)

    by beelsebob ( 529313 ) on Thursday March 19, 2015 @01:55PM (#49293411)

    What on earth is "an Uruguay syndrom", and why does google have no idea either.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 19, 2015 @01:58PM (#49293441)

      The highly radioactive material must of melted through the center of the Earth and appeared in Uruguay. What else could it be?

    • Re:What on earth (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 19, 2015 @01:58PM (#49293443)

      It's Japanese for "China Syndrome"

      • by gargleblast ( 683147 ) on Thursday March 19, 2015 @05:59PM (#49295755)
        Main difference being that it never actually burns through to Uruguay, because it stops when it hits the last letter of syndrome.
        • Main difference being that it never actually burns through to Uruguay, because it stops when it hits the last letter of syndrome.

          Who knew that the Silent E had such awesome power?? A perusal of available scientific literature [youtube.com] does not even hint at this ability. Even graphene has a silent E, which could be the true source of its unique properties. Silent E should be incorporated into the design of all Gen V reactors.

          Silent E decommissioning may also help with radiological cleanup.
          It can turn a plume into a plum.

    • Re:What on earth (Score:5, Informative)

      by digitalPhant0m ( 1424687 ) on Thursday March 19, 2015 @02:00PM (#49293467)

      I think they are trying to be clever and play on the term China Syndrome [wikipedia.org], where the fuel melts all the way through the earth to it's Antipodal point.

      But since this is Japan, the author speculates that the antipodal point is somewhere in Uruguay, which it is not (it's kinda close though).
      You can check here: Antipodal Map [findlatitu...gitude.com]

      • Re:What on earth (Score:5, Interesting)

        by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Thursday March 19, 2015 @02:14PM (#49293601)

        But since this is Japan, the author speculates that the antipodal point is somewhere in Uruguay, which it is not (it's kinda close though).

        Ironically, "Uruguay syndrome" is a more accurate term because Uruguay is a heck of a lot closer to being an antipode of Japan than China is to being an antipode of the US.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by sh00z ( 206503 )

          But since this is Japan, the author speculates that the antipodal point is somewhere in Uruguay, which it is not (it's kinda close though).

          Ironically, "Uruguay syndrome" is a more accurate term because Uruguay is a heck of a lot closer to being an antipode of Japan than China is to being an antipode of the US.

          Well, sure, but there's *no* land antipodal to anywhere in the US. Gotta call it something. Indian Ocean syndrome?

      • by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve ( 949321 ) on Thursday March 19, 2015 @02:19PM (#49293647)

        I think they are trying to be clever and play on the term China Syndrome [wikipedia.org], where the fuel melts all the way through the earth to it's Antipodal point.

        Thank you as I had no idea at all what this was. I think somewhere Dennis Miller is reading this and saying "Even by my standards that's obscure."

        • Re:What on earth (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Nutria ( 679911 ) on Thursday March 19, 2015 @02:35PM (#49293763)

          "Even by my standards that's obscure."

          Nah. He's old enough to remember the movie.

          Fears of a "China Syndrome" were quite high in the 1970s. Of course, if you were born in the 1980s (heck, even in the mid- to late- 1970s) then it probably is obscure!

          No GOML you whippersnapper!

          • by TWX ( 665546 )
            Given that Chernobyl blew up in 1986 and again raised our fear of what was going to happen with nuclear power, I don't think it's as obscure to children of the Eighties as you're assuming.
            • I was born in 1976. I vividly recall both Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. I saw The China Syndrome probably 20 years ago.

              Today, I had no fucking clue what "Uruguay Syndrome" would refer to. For that matter, I wouldn't have remembered what "China Syndrome" refers to other than a movie I once saw.

              • I realized almost immediately what "Uruguay Syndrome" meant, and promptly had the following thought string:
                "No one's going to understand that, because we stupid americans are used to "china syndrome." Also, if nuclear fuel melted through the crust, it would get stuck somewhere in the core, because its not going to have the velocity to burn upwards once it passes it, so the whole idea is retarded. Also, where the fuck is Uruguay."
                • +1. americans are more likely to understand the reference to the china syndrome movie than know where uraguay is. FWIW I immediately saw the reference to the movie (although clever misspelling almost derailed me).

                • You want to rag on "stupid americans [sic]" and you don't know where Uruguay is? It's a country in South America.
                  • I can rag on 'Stupid Americans' all I want, I'm one of them. The state of our education system is embarrassing by and large.
              • by Nutria ( 679911 )

                I vividly recall both Three Mile Island

                You were 3...

                • I was 4, born in '75. My dad was a nuclear reactor operator at H.B. Robinson, and I *definitely* remember Three Mile Island because of the uproar it caused with him and his friends / coworkers. I'd allow I'd have remembered if I had been 3, so I believe the above poster. So tthhhhpppptttt.

              • by dbIII ( 701233 )

                Today, I had no fucking clue what "Uruguay Syndrome"

                An obsession with kicking a round ball around to the point of being really good at it?

          • by hey! ( 33014 )

            The movie came out in 1979 but the term was coined some twelve years earlier. I remember reading about it in the early 70s so I was quite interested to see the movie when it came out.

            The movie had the incredible good luck of having the nuclear industry launching an ill-advised PR campaign against it (there's no such thing as bad publicity), which further backfired when the Three Mile Island accident occurred less than two weeks later.

            The movie was actually pretty good. It was of course unfair to the nuclea

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by dejaniv ( 842280 )

        As Yosemite Sam put it:

        “Great horny toadies! I musta dug clean through to Chiney!”

      • by internerdj ( 1319281 ) on Thursday March 19, 2015 @03:00PM (#49293957)
        Thank you. I'm now glad I never finished my hole through to the other side of the earth. My parents would have been loads of pissed when the Indian ocean drained out into our yard.
      • That's a pretty cool map. I would have not guessed the continental US's (in entirety) antipodal points are located off the west coast of Australia in the Indian ocean.
    • by nobuddy ( 952985 )

      My reaction, at first. Then i thought about the US calling it 'China Syndrome" and why it is called that.
      Uraguay is opposite Japan on the globe.

      • by jrumney ( 197329 )
        Are nuclear reactors mounted on an angle in the US? Is this a deliberate strategy to prevent China from attacking the power stations in the next world war?
    • by pitchpipe ( 708843 ) on Thursday March 19, 2015 @02:08PM (#49293559)

      What on earth is "an Uruguay syndrom", and why does google have no idea either.

      And I thought that /.ers were supposed to be smart.

      An Uruguay Syndrom[e] is very similar to Collins' Syndrome, except that it is much bigger and involves radiation from uranium fission instead of Cesium/Deuterium. Think of it as an Atlantis Complex times 100.

      There, was that so hard?

    • Re:What on earth (Score:5, Informative)

      by DRJlaw ( 946416 ) on Thursday March 19, 2015 @02:13PM (#49293599)

      What on earth is "an Uruguay syndrom", and why does google have no idea either.

      An attempt to be cute with the concept of the "China syndrome," but since the reactor is in Japan you name somewhere in the Western Hemisphere. This is actually a marginally better form of cute since China and the US are both in the Northern Hemisphere, and Japan and Uruguay are actually separated by the equator as well. Your seemingly self-sustaining molten nuclear fuel melts its way through the earth - then up and out the other side (*eye twitch*).

      The problem being it's utter bollocks [google.com]. Anything that becomes molten will mix into the fuel and dilute it, lowering the reaction rate and moving you further and further away from a self-sustaining reaction.

      The real concern is that you melt through the containment vessel (apparently not likely; but then explosions within the containment vessel and seismic activity aren't helping you any), through the earth, and down to the water table so that there is a steam explosion. That potentially scatters the nuclear fuel and fission products out the containment vessel.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Thanks for posting the exact same thing as the ten people before you. Had I not had this 11th explanation, I don't think I would have understood it.

        • by DRJlaw ( 946416 )

          Sorry, I was writing actual content rather than obsessively thread monitoring. Too bad only one other post actually mentions the melting/dilution issue, using Wikipedia no less.

      • Re:What on earth (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Thursday March 19, 2015 @02:36PM (#49293765)

        "Anything that becomes molten will mix into the fuel and dilute it, lowering the reaction rate and moving you further and further away from a self-sustaining reaction."

        There's that, yes. And also the antigravity that's required on the second half of the trip.

      • The problem being it's utter bollocks [google.com]. Anything that becomes molten will mix into the fuel and dilute it, lowering the reaction rate and moving you further and further away from a self-sustaining reaction.

        That's not the only reason it's complete horseshit - once you actually get to the center of the planet, the melting whatever that magically never dilutes would be moving opposite of gravity.

        The whole concept is patently stupid.

        • The whole concept is patently stupid

          You can't patent stupid. Congress provides too much prior art...

        • by dbIII ( 701233 )
          I don't think the concept was ever intended to be taken seriously. See also the Yosemite Sam dig to China joke. It's just a "rhetorical flourish" to say a really deep hole, when really deep may be nowhere near the depth of a typical open cut coal mine let alone an undergound one.
      • Re:What on earth (Score:5, Informative)

        by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Thursday March 19, 2015 @04:01PM (#49294405)

        It was never a serious name. The famous movie itsself even pointed this out - it said that in practice the fuel will burn down until it hits groundwater, then disperse in a steam explosion.

      • FYI it is utter bollocks because it if makes to the CENTER of the planet, that is where it would STAY.
      • by whit3 ( 318913 )

        What on earth is "an Uruguay syndrom", and why does google have no idea either.

        An attempt to be cute with the concept of the "China syndrome," ... self-sustaining molten nuclear fuel melts its way through the earth - then up and out the other side (*eye twitch*).

        The problem being it's utter bollocks. Anything that becomes molten will mix into the fuel and dilute it, lowering the reaction rate and moving you further and further away from a self-sustaining reaction.

        It IS nonsense, but the amount of fuel i

    • I don't know, but this this is Japan I'm going to assume it involves a giant lizard or a monster with tentacles.

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      It's a play on the China Syndrome. If a reactor core were to melt straight through the earth from Fukushima, it would come out somewhere near Uruguay.

      Of course, the China Syndrome is pure fiction and inaccurate as well. If a reatcor core melted straight through the earth from anywhere in the USA, it wouldn't come out anywhere near China. In fact, the Three Mile Island core would have come through very close to the final resting place of MH370.

      Hmm.....

    • Uruguay is at 35 S and Japan is at 35 N.

      Uruguay is at 56 W and Japan is at 139 E.

      Putting them close enough to being opposite one another (56+139 isn't 180 but close enough for this sillyness). Thus if the hot critical fuel melts its way through the entire planet it will come out near Uruguay.

  • Safe? (Score:5, Funny)

    by chinton ( 151403 ) <chinton001-slashdot@noSpaM.gmail.com> on Thursday March 19, 2015 @01:56PM (#49293417) Journal
    Ah, this is obviously some strange use of the word safe that I wasn't previously aware of.
    • by Isarian ( 929683 )

      You keep using that word, "safe". I do not think it means what you think it means.

    • Obligatory (Score:5, Funny)

      by ArcadeMan ( 2766669 ) on Thursday March 19, 2015 @02:54PM (#49293919)

      Ford Prefect: How are you feeling?
      Arthur Dent: Like a military academy. Bits of me keep passing out. Ford? If I were to ask you where the hell we were, would I regret it?
      Ford Prefect: We're safe.
      Arthur Dent: Ah. Good.
      Ford Prefect: We're in a cabin of one of the spaceships of the Vogon Constructor Fleet.
      Arthur Dent: Ah. This is obviously some strange usage of the word "safe" that I hadn't previously been aware of.

  • Safe bet? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by HornWumpus ( 783565 )

    'Safe bet' == 'pure inflammatory guesswork'?

    • by tsotha ( 720379 )
      Yeah, great to see slashdot is keeping up the tradition of including nonsense right there in the summary so you don't have to go to the comments for it.
  • The reality is IF the fuel "burned" through the foundation of the reactor, it would quickly disperse and dilute enough that the reaction would slow down to the point that it would cool enough that it would no longer be molten; and then it would no longer be mobile.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N... [wikipedia.org]

    Then, it's _just_ a pain in the arse to safely clean up.
    • Well, it would no longer be mobile except for the couple million gallons of water they hosed over the whole thing. I imagine that made some of it mobile in ways that people don't appreciate.

      • True... but the water is a different problem - it still has to be managed, but a different problem. The fuel is NOT melting its way into the Earth's core as the poster suggests with their China Syndrome reference. By now, it is quite solid;except perhaps for a some small pockets that must already be accidentally contained, otherwise it could not remain liquid.
  • Job Security (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BarbaraHudson ( 3785311 ) <barbarahudson@gma i l .com> on Thursday March 19, 2015 @02:12PM (#49293587) Journal

    With the decommissioning expected to take 3 to 4 decades, that's pretty good job security.

    Just too bad that the half-life of the workers will be less than the half-life of the job. But it "is" a lifetime job."

    • But it "is" a lifetime job."

      What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger eh?

      Is that a lifetime of work or the last job of your lifetime? I got to know before I take the job, It matters to me...

  • by hairykrishna ( 740240 ) on Thursday March 19, 2015 @02:15PM (#49293619)

    They are using muon tomography.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M... [wikipedia.org]

    I would take the other end of the 'safe bet'. Essentially all of the fuel is at the base of the reactor vessel. How much would you like to wager?

    • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )
      Define reactor vessel. Is it the originally constructed concrete container, or material surrounding the current uranium core?
    • Re:Muon imaging (Score:4, Insightful)

      by hey! ( 33014 ) on Thursday March 19, 2015 @05:12PM (#49295111) Homepage Journal

      Depends on what you mean by "Essentially all of the fuel is at the base of the reactor vessel".

      If you mean that no fuel escaped the reactor pressure vessel, I'd take that bet in a heartbeat. If you mean that most of fuel is inside the primary containment vessel, I expect you're right but I wouldn't take that bet one way or the other.

      This particular disaster has a track record of confounding optimistic expectations. In fact I think that's the lesson to draw from it. When events move well outside the parameters you expected you can't rely on optimistic expectations, you need data. We have to assume that fuel outside the PCV is at least a possibility until we have evidence which rules that out.

  • by RSilverlok ( 4045711 ) on Thursday March 19, 2015 @02:15PM (#49293621)
    Remember, building one at fukushima-Daichi contained a G.E. mark one (BWR) which has holes in the bottom that the control rods would supposedly use. If the fuel is not in the core it would quickly have melted the seals around those holes and oozed into the CV ( 'containment' vessel ). On estimate, it would only take about four hundred pounds of corium ( melted fuel globs) to burn through the CV bottom. This would have taken less than 24 hours from the initial incident. Since the core contained tons of material it is impossibly naive to believe that it is even remotely contained. BUT more importantly, since reactor #1 doesn't have any core material , and it was one of the least spectacular 'explosions' at the plant, How can Tepco get anyone to believe that the really spectacular explosion at three did anything less than blow core materials through the roof like the world's nastiest party popper?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 19, 2015 @02:38PM (#49293773)

      Because if there had been any dispersal of reactor core materials, it would sort of have been obvious? Like "In the red forest near Chernobyl, where most of the large particles loaded with reactor fuel fragments rained down, literally everything was dead within days" obvious?

      Radiation spectrometers are really quite good at identifying the radioactive elements present based on the energies of the gamma rays. Virtually all contamination from Fukushima is volatiles: Cesium, strontium, iodine, xenon. Things that would have been coming off corium as vapor then either continuing as vapor or contaminating the water droplets inside before floating out. Nonvolatile elements don't generally become airborne of a whim; unless you have e.g. a burning reactor core at Chernobyl to make small particles, and a ferocious thermal convection updraft to waft them up. And even there, most of the horrible transactinide-laden particles rained down within a few miles.

      • by MrL0G1C ( 867445 )

        You're forgetting something:

        The pattern of prevailing winds during the accident meant that most of the radioactive materials released from the plant were blown out to sea.

        "Had the winds been less favourable, the consequences could have been more serious than Chernobyl,"

        http://www.nature.com/news/muc... [nature.com]

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 19, 2015 @03:11PM (#49294033)

      > Since the core contained tons of material it is impossibly naive to believe that it is even remotely contained.

      I agree with you completely, but want to point out that a great number of armchair physicists online have been scoffing and mocking people who indicate that the reactors melted down, that the fuel pools are not fully intact, and that the earthquakes caused real damage. Slowly, the picture of damage is becoming clear and those armchair physicists are being proven wrong. It's almost like global warming deniers. Fukushima deniers?

      • I still think it's of quite low relevance. Do you know how much radioactive material leaves a coal plant during normal operation?

        A coal plant requires massive amounts of coal. Most are connected to waterways, twin railways or conveyor belts with a direct line from a coal mine. Trucks don't cut it.
        The first coal powerplant I could find [wikipedia.org] consumed 9.1 million tonne of coal in 2011.

        About a part per million of that coal is uranium. [usgs.gov] That means that that plant produced about 9 tonnes of uranium. That single plant.
        N

        • I still think it's of quite low relevance. Do you know how much radioactive material leaves a coal plant during normal operation?

          The amount of tritium is very high. The amount of fissile uranium is fairly low.

          So stop worrying about the limited amount of radioactive materials from a nuclear plant and worry about the large amount of radioactive materials from coal plants.

          I can worry about both.

    • by jnaujok ( 804613 )
      Because all of the explosions that occurred at Fukushima were hydrogen/oxygen explosions caused by bleeding the built up hydrogen from the pressure vessel. The hydrogen was being thermally separated from the oxygen because of the high temperatures in the core. Rather than let pressure build up in the pressure vessel (and exposing the core) emergency relief valves bled it into the environment -- the environment in this case being the mostly sealed building around the reactor. Hydrogen built up near the roof
      • by dbIII ( 701233 )
        So? Chenobyl was a steam explosion. It's what gets tossed out and how much of it that matters.
  • While Slashdot's speculation is that "autocorrect gone horribly wrong" may be at the bottom of the submitter's odd new phrase, it is a safe bet that at least some of it has to do with a series of small aneurisms known as "Uruguay Syndrome."
  • The title "No Fuel In the Fukushima Reactor #1" is WRONG.
    The fuel is still inside the reactor. It is just melted down at the bottom.

    • The title "No Fuel In the Fukushima Reactor #1" is WRONG.
      The fuel is still inside the reactor. It is just melted down at the bottom.

      That is correct. The title is misleading, but summary link text "not in its place" is on the mark. Muon scanning is still in progress. The paper Cosmic Ray Radiography of the Damaged Cores of the Fukushima Reactors [2012] [arxiv.org] describes the approach in more detail. Most thought the fuel would melt under these conditions but the real question is, has the there been a 'melt-through', where melted fuel escaped the reactor containment vessel, as Chernobyl's did? To make an so-called Elephant's Foot [youtube.com] of solidified cor

    • The fuel is still inside the reactor. It is just melted down at the bottom.

      And you know this for a fact, even though even TEPCO doesn't know this, because?

  • a new scan technique using muons have shown the fuel is not in its place.

    Hah??? The whole point of this technology was supposed to be able to locate where the fuels debris are so they can start planning the removal. They said it themselves.

    http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/pres... [tepco.co.jp]

    But before those reactor cores can be removed, it is essential to locate where the debris has dropped inside the reactor.

    So the technology didn't work. They just confirmed that the it is not in the core, which provide them with zero information to be able to move forward but they didn't say that and pretending it is some kind of achievement and not admitting the fact the they didn't achieve the prime objective of this e

  • Sounds good. Just wait a few more years and the core will be deep underground and melting its way deeper. Just toss some dirt on top.

  • It would appear that Wikipedia redirects "Uruguay syndrome" to Nuclear_meltdown#China_syndrome.

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