BBC: Work at Fukushima Unit 4 a “distraction”; The “real nightmare” is coming from 3 molten cores — NYTimes: Melted fuel is “all over the place… First goal is simply to stop uncontrolled releases of radioactive material” (AUDIO)

Sunday, December 8, 2013
By Paul Martin
December 7th, 2013

BBC Tokyo correspondent Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, Dec. 6, 2013 (at 2:30 in): They’re doing this work because that’s the easy bit. Reactor 4 was not badly damaged compared to the other reactors. There was no core meltdown, so that is the one that they can sort of get to grips with […] Reactor buildings 1, 2, and 3 where there were core meltdowns, the radiation levels there are still way too high for anyone to go in those buildings. So I think Reactors 1, 2, and 3, the reactors that had core meltdowns, are the real long-term problem, and a very difficult problem to deal with. Reactor 4 is a bit of a distraction. It’s important to get the fuel out, but it is the easy bit. […] the really big headache [is] to keep those melted reactors cool, which they have to do for many years to come. They have to pump water into the damaged reactor cores […] It’s a real nightmare to manage this ever-growing amount of water. >> Full interview with Hayes here

New York Times reporter Matthew Wald* (at 46:30 in): The water, about a thousand tons a day, comes through the site and some of it goes into the basements of these ruined reactors, and these basements now have radioactive material in them. […] The water when it reaches the ocean just about meets international standards for drinking water, it’s barely polluted […] but it just looks awful that two and a half years after this accident, you have not contained the radioactive debris. […] [The fuel] is not molten anymore. Of course it’s kind of like candle wax that solidified, but it’s all over the place and getting it out is going to be a challenge. […] little bits of fuel got out on to the space around the vessel into the basement, etc., etc. It’s dangerous, it’s highly radioactive. On the other hand it’s not really in a public place. […] But probably the first goal is simply to stop uncontrolled releases of radioactive material, and they haven’t quite reached that yet. >> Full interview with Wald here

* A pro-nuclear blogger discussed Wald earlier this year: “Matt Wald of the New York Times recently reviewed a new book on America’s nuclear waste storage saga […] Aside: Sadly, Matt’s post was one of the last posts ever published on Green, which just announced its demise due to budget constraints. It’s a crying shame; Green provided excellent coverage […]“

Wald says the Fukushima plant is not a public place, so pieces of nuclear fuel in the cooling water isn’t as big of a deal — and that the leaking water used to cool the fuel is barely polluted. Here is what independent nuclear consultant John Large has said on the matter

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