I\’m not sure about this

But it puts up little defence of a design flaw that does appear to be at the heart of the crisis at Fukushima – the extraordinary practice of putting the pool where the highly radioactive used fuel is stored on an upper floor of the reactor building, instead of, as is normal, having it at ground level.


and the exposure of highly radioactive spent fuel in a storage pool at a fourth.

It\’s the use of \”spent\” and \”used\” which I\’m not sure about.

I have  feeling, and I\’m not sure where it comes from (been reading so much about this, difficult to know where any specific piece of info comes from) that the correct description would be \”partially used\” fuel.

Dearieme, who comments around here occasionally, would be able to tell us.

This reactor design does indeed have a storage pool for fuel rods up above the reactor. This is not, however, for \”spent\” rods, ones that have been used and are then on their long journey off to be cooled then either reprocessed or buried.

This is for rods that have been in the reactor, have been removed and are going to be put back. When the plant is closed for maintenance for example (as I believe reactor 4 was). Take the rods out, do the work, keep the rods close to hand and cool, before putting them back.

This may or may not be a wise design choice but it\’s not quite what I see it being described as: this isn\’t spent fuel, this is stuff that will be relaoded into the reactor, which is why it is kept very close to that top of the reactor where it will be reloaded at some point.

5 thoughts on “I\’m not sure about this”

  1. Couldn’t find anywhere to verify this but:
    I read somewhere that the storage pool is about 40ft deep which’d put the materials handling equipment about 4+ stories above the base.
    Logic says: (1)You’d want the pathway from rods being lifted out of the top of the reactor to the pool as short as possible. (2)You’d want this lot easily accessible, rather than stuck in a hole in the ground, because eventually you’ll be taking it apart.(3)Nobody’s saying the pool sustained a leak.

  2. But I thought these reactors were “bottom feeds” for the rods, Ie the rods are puseh UP into the reactor, and not droped DOWN?

    That means having the ready use rods “on the roof” makes even less sense.

    Tim adds: These reactors are bottom feeds for the control rods, not for the fuel rods…..

  3. What you say sounds plausible, Tim, but the facts of this particular site aren’t known to me. In fact, as I’ve remarked before, the only reactor I ever learnt about in detail was the dying one at Chernobyl when I was pressed into service to study it quickly. It was ironic since I’ve never been employed in the nuclear biz. (Which is one of the three reasons why I am anti-anti-nuclear, rather than pro-nuclear. To be pro-nuclear I’d want some direct experience of nuclear plant.)

  4. Of course, if I had had some experience on nuclear plant, perhaps it would have made me anti-nuclear.

  5. It seems unlikely to me that a newspaper columnist would critique the design of a nuclear facility without having checked his thoughts with several experts in the field.


    Oh, sorry, I needed that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *