Many more people are now focusing on the problem of the spent uranium fuel rods at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.
Danger of Spent Fuel Outweighs Reactor Threat -- Figures provided by Tokyo Electric Power on Thursday show that most of the dangerous uranium at the power plant is actually in the spent fuel rods, not the reactor cores themselves. The electric utility said that a total of 11,195 spent fuel rod assemblies were stored at the site.
That is in addition to 400 fuel assemblies that had been in active service in reactor No. 1 and 548 in each of reactors No. 2 and 3. In other words, the storage pools hold more than seven times as much radioactive material as the reactor cores.
Now those temporary pools are proving the power plant’s Achilles heel, as the water in the pools either boils away or leaks out of their containments, and efforts to add more water have gone awry. While spent fuel rods generate significantly less heat than newer ones, there are strong indications that the fuel rods have begun to melt and release extremely high levels of radiation...
Very high levels of radiation above the storage pools suggest that the water has drained in the 39-foot-deep pools to the point that the 13-foot-high fuel rod assemblies have been exposed to air for hours and are starting to melt...
Japan Admits Nuclear Problem Is 'Severe'
Kirk James Murphy / Fire Dog Lake:
Why Fukushima’s “spent” fuel rods will continue to catch fire
Detailed Look At The Spent Fuel Rod Containment Pools At Fukushima
All Things Nuclear:
Spent Fuel Pools at Fukushima