[ RadSafe ] Segment 2 of the Arnie Gundersen Piece on Fukushima, Three Mile Island and Chernobyl on KGO Radio

Roger Helbig rwhelbig at gmail.com
Tue Apr 17 04:08:21 CDT 2012

I have transcribed the second segment of this radio program and am
going to post the audio segments plus this transcription to the
internet archive.  I may work a bit on Segment 1, which has a long
introduction of Gundersen and perhaps the last two segments, but this
one has some real hum dinger claims by Gundersen about the spent fuel
pool in Reactor 4 being the most danger, about Zircaloy burning out of
control, about skyshine and that making it deadly to work in the
Fukushima context

There are four segments to this radio program.  I have cut the
introductory news and news and commercials from the rest of the hour
long  segment that was broadcast from 5-6PM on Sunday, April 15, 2012.
 This segment is still available in its entirety at KGO Radio’s hourly
archives until 6PM, Sunday April 22nd.   To access this,  go to
www.kgoradio.com, Listen, Hourly Archives, Sunday, 5-6PM.

Segment 1 (not yet transcribed, contains lengthy introduction of
Gundersen and his “expert” qualifications, well worth examining at
later date (anyone is welcome to listen to this segment)

T – In this hour I am thrilled that we have a guest joining us who is
an expert in nuclear enery.   Arnie Gundersen.  Arnie is an energy

Segment 2

 Preceded by the first verse of song "Pride of Man" by Hamilton Camp

Turn around, go back down, back the way you came
Can't you see that flash of fire ten times brighter than the day
And behold the mighty city broken in the dust again
Oh God, the pride of man, broken in the dust again

T- Good evening, I am Pat Thurston and Arnie Gundersen is my guest.
Yes, we are talking about Fukushima, what is going on there now.  It’s
been over a year since the earthquake, the horrible earthquake and the
tsunami that caused the damage in Japan.  Of course we know of the Dai
Ichi plants there.  We saw the explosion that happened when  they did
the hydrogen release and you know we were all talking and all nervous
and what we thought I think, Arnie, was that is there was going to be
a really really big disaster that we were imagining ,  none of us know
this stuff, you know this stuff, we don’t know this stuff, we think
about the China Syndrome and what we imagine is that suddenly this
whole power plant starts sinking  and it goes way way way down and
then this big mushroom cloud comes up it’s like an atomic bomb that
exploded right there.  So that’s what we thought and we figured if
that didn’t happen everything was probably going to be OK that they
have got everything under control.  Tell us what the reality is then.
1:32 G.  This is like a Chuckie horror movie then, you know (chuckles)
every time that you think that you have got it killed, it comes back
and the biggest problem still is that fuel pool on Unit 4 you know
that each of them.  First off,  there is this comment called “safe
shutdown”.  You will hear it if Diablo Canyon shuts down or with San
Onofre they will that say that the unit is safely shut down. Now what
that means is that the control rods fall in but that only puts 95% of
the heat away
T – OK now wait, when the control rods fall in.  What they do is get
between  the things that are reacting together and stop the reaction,
the chain reaction  from going OK
G   You got it, but because the chain reaction has already occurred,
there is pieces of uranium called fission products that are left and
they give off about 5% of the heat from the nuclear reactor and that
doesn’t stop.  So, of course what happened at Fukushima is that
because they couldn’t cool that 5% they had the explosions and the
melt throughs and all that kind of stuff
T  Right, and we still don’t know everything that is going on inside
there do we.  I mean didn’t I hear recently that it is so hot that the
robots can not even function in there
G  Yes, the radiation exposure in the best reactor, which is Unit 2
was 7000 R an hour.  A thousand R an hour will kill you in about 15
minutes.  So this is incredibly high radiation, so high that it would
effect robot circuitry in an hour or two, so how they are going to
solve those problems is, we are relying on technology that hasn’t been
built yet to solve those problems.
T.  And then the pools that have the spent fuel rods and we are
talking now Reactor 4 this scary situation where you have got this
structure that is all damaged and this is sort of in the open air.  I
mean it is covered with water, but it is up in the air and there is
nothing covering it right now, right
G Right.  And what makes Reactor 4 so bad is that it not only has old
fuel , like Unit 1 has fuel that is like 12 years old and it’s plenty
cool, but Reactor 4 has one year old fuel that had just been removed
from the nuclear reactor and is now sitting in that pool.  So if the
pool were to leak or if the pool were to lose its cooling it would
either boil dry or run dry quite quickly.  What happens then is that
the fuel rods get hot enough that the metal called Zircaloy burns in
air.  It just sucks up the oxygen from the air and burns in which case
you don’t have a melt down, you have got a pyre of radioactive smoke
going up and so the comment that Ambassador Matsumora (the Ambassador
is actually Japan’s former Ambassador to Switzerland, Mr. Mitsuhei
Murata and Matsumora is Akio Matsumora, who appeared on Project
Censored radio) was talking about,  I think that if the wind is
blowing the summertime the wind blows out to sea thank God; if there
was a savings grace at Fukushima, it was that 80% of the nuclear
radiation went out to sea and only 20% went inland.  It could have
easily been just the other way  in which case Japan would have been
cut in half for 300 years
T Oh my God
G So the concern is that can happen if the fuel pool catches fire
T  And then if whatever has gone out to sea whether it has come from
the water that’s leaked, cause we know about that or the water that
was used to cool things down in the beginning you know after the
generators were shut down and everything.  When the water goes out to
sea. Is that OK.  I mean it is - radioactive but the sea is really big
 so does it make that not a dangerous situation?
G It makes it less dangerous.  You know that there is still the same
amount of radiation but like you said the Pacific Ocean is a big place
and I suspect that we will see it working its way up the food chain
through fish and ultimately winding up on people’s dinner plates but
compared to it lying on the soil,
T yeah
G like is happening in some areas of Fukushima but could happen
throughout Japan compared to that it’s much less severe.
T OK let me ask you and obviously I know nothing about this stuff so
it’s all an education to me.  Let me ask you about the pools
themselves.  They are not covered up  they have got these rods in
there that are trying to cool down.  Are they, while they are cooling,
I assume they are still emitting radioactivity, does the water
prevent, I assume that it is still going out into the air?
G Yeah.  There is some radiation being given off because the water is
steaming and boiling.  Umh, but you hit the eye on the head.  For
about three or four, maybe fi ve years, that water has to be cooled.
After that, there is probably not much of this heat left and we are in
a different game, but why everybody is paying all this attention to
Unit 4 is that we have four years to go.  That pool has to be cooled
and if there is a seismic event that either stops the cooling or
cracks the pool or knocks the building over.  Umh, any one of those
would cause a chain reaction of things, no that’s the wrong word, it
would cause a series of things to occur.  First is the possibility of
a fire.  And ah this once this fire starts, it can’t be put out by
water which is it’s called pyrophoric when you spray water on it, it
takes the oxygen from the water and then gives off hydrogen that then
expodes which makes it worse, so this is not something you want to
pour water on, but the other part that Ambassador Matsumora was
talking about was that it is highly radioactive so that entire site
would become very difficult if not uninhabitable.  So the concern
about the other fuel pool was that if this pool were to go dry and
let’s assume that it didn’t fall but went dry a hundred feet in the
air, it would be a beacon but it would not be a beacon of light but a
beacon of radiation and bathe the site in high levels of radiation.
That’s not something that you want because it would make work on other
units darn near impossible.
T and if people breathed in the whatever would have been created by
the smoke from the fire would that be potentially deadly to them
G Yes.  You look at the people on the site now they are all wearing
pretty good respirators.  Uhm and even that wouldn’t be good enough
because of something called skyshine.  The gamma rays, forget the
particles that get caught in your lungs but the gamma rays would go up
and bounce off air molecules and come down as a shine of radiation
over the site and  it would go right through those suits and the guys
would be exposed  from the skyshine so that’s the other
T  Holy mackerel, I never heard of anything like that.  I mean this is
really scary.  Now, let me ask you this, we because when this thing
happened there were so many people who were talking about what could
happen, what wouldn’t happen, what the good news is, what the bad news
might be but one thing that we always heard and I want you to tell me
if this is true or not we heard that even in Chernobyl and even at
Three Mile Island that no one died as a result of those accidents.
(She heard wrong with regards to Chernobyl and correctly with regards
to Three Mile Island)  Is that true?
G  Well no, it is not true.  It is not true at all.  There is a lot of
good “peer reviewed” data coming out at Three Mile Island that now
shows that about a 10-15% increase in lung cancers in people that were
uhm in the vicinity of the plan in the first 10 days of the accident.
The guy, Dr Steve Wing is the guy who has done the studies and like I
said, it is peer reviewed.   There is also a study out of Pittsburgh
showing a statistically meaningful increase in leukemias, but you have
to wait a while for these cancers to develop so the NRC and Nuclear
Regulatory Commission’s website says that nobody was killed but they
are just wrong.  Now as far
T  They are protecting the industry
G  Yes, I have said that for a long time and they are .. Congress is
controlled by the industy and Congress appoints the people that run
the Commission so they are controlled
T What a cozy relationship
G  Yes.  On Chernobyl, there’s some books out on Chernobyl that
something on the order of a million fatalities
T Uh (exclamatory)
G A million cancers from the Chernobyl accident.  Uhm, the nuclear
industry will say 28, which was the number of firemen that died in the
first month.  There were people who were called the liquidators and
they would grab nuclear fuel flying around the yard and throw it into
the nuclear reactor and they would be exposed for about five minutes
they were in the military and there were about 600,000 of them.  They
would work for five minutes and they were given their discharge papers
and they were sent home forever.
T  Wow
G  And of the liquidators, about 100,000 of those have already died of
cancer so there is a great book out by a guy named Yablokov on
Chernobyl and there are other books as well
T  Hey Arnie,  I know that you were only supposed to only be with us
until 5:30.  Can you stay a little bit longer?
G Sure
T  I have got to take a break here

End Segment 2 (about 5:30PM on Sunday, April 15th)

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