Falling Heat, Energy Supply Ease Nuclear Risks, Wakeford Says

Richard Wakeford, a professor at the University of Manchester’s Dalton Nuclear institute, comments on the importance of reconnection of electricity at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi atomic plant

On reconnecting electricity:

“We don’t know how much damage has been done to the pipes. If the pipes are intact then you’re O.K. and there is nothing to suggest that when the generators were on that there wasn’t cooling water being delivered.”

“The reconnection of the electricity supply is very good news, but it depends on there being water to pump and there being no major break in the pipes. Whether you can supply enough water to the cooling ponds is very difficult to know.”

On radioactive decay heat falling:

“Over the last few days, the radioactive decay heat has dropped dramatically, but there is still enough heat there where if you leave the water level, you start getting the cladding breaking down. Depending on the power level of reactors when they were shut, they can take one to two weeks to cool down.”

“This situation is nothing like Chernobyl where the blowup radiated fuel way up in the air. You’re not seeing that here and the ground level release does not go far.”

If fuel melts and gets out of the containment vessel:

“The fuel would start dropping into suppression well and it’s designed to do that. So ultimately you’d get a load of molten fuel in there. It’s a mess, but the containment is maintained.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Kari Lundgren in London at klundgren2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Will Kennedy at wkennedy3@bloomberg.net

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