What Caused the High Radioactivity: April 2011

4. April 2011

What Caused the High Cl-38 Radioactivity in the Fukushima Daiichi Reactor #1?

Arjun Mmakhijani and F. Salnoki-Veress

The presence of highly radioactive water in three turbine buildings at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is widely understood to be from the damaged fuel rods in the reactors. This has rightly raised concerns because it indicates several problems including extensive fuel damage and leaks in the piping system. Less attention has been paid to the presence of a very short-lived radionuclide, chlorine-38, in the water in the turbine building of Unit 1. The following paper evaluates whether its presence provides evidence of a serious problem - one or more unintended chain reactions (technically: unintended criticalities) - in the reactor. Such chain reactions create bursts of fission products and energy, both of which could cause further damage and aggravate working conditions that are already very difficult.

Arjun Makhijani is president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (www.ieer.org). He holds a Ph.D. in engineering (specialization: nuclear fusion) from the University of California at Berkeley and has produced many studies and articles on nuclear fuel cycle related issues, including weapons production, testing, and nuclear waste, over the past twenty years. He is the author of Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free: A Roadmap for U.S. Energy Policy.

Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress is a Research Scientist at the James Martin Center for Non-Proliferation Studies of the Monterey Institute of International Studies. He is a specialist on nuclear disarmament and on aspects of global proliferation of fissile materials. He holds a PhD in high energy physics from Carleton University, Canada, specializing in ultra-low radioactivity background detectors.

Recommended citation: Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress and Arjun Makhijani, What Caused the High Cl-38 Radioactivity in the Fukushima Daiichi Reactor #1?, The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 14 No 3, April 4, 2011.

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