New fear of explosions in Fukushima — Nuclear waste threatens to “spontaneously combust” — Millions of tons of radioactive material could be released — Nuclear Expert: Japanese government is “terrified” (AUDIO)
Published: May 9th, 2017 at 12:17 pm ET
Nuclear Information and Resource Service tele-briefing, Apr 4, 2017 (emphasis added):
Question (at 1:03:45 in): Hi, I’m Norma Field calling from Chicago… I’ve seen that those huge plastic garbage bags that hold the waste from so-called decontamination in some places now have little chimneys attached to them. I’m imagining that since this is often organic waste that’s been baking under the sun, there are gases that have to be releases. Now, how effective are those bags at containing radionuclides if they have to be off-gassed in that way? Thank you.
Arnie Gundersen, nuclear engineer: You’re very observant. I noticed that when I was over there, too. I’ll let our other listeners know – when you think of these large fields of bags, they have organic matter in them. They have leaves and grass clippings and tree limbs and on and on, that as they decay, they give off methane gas, which of course is flammable. And the Japanese are terrified that they’ll get a fire – essentially spontaneous combustion in the center of these large piles, that could re-volitalize a million bags of radioactive waste again. So they have pipes sticking out of the piles at predetermined locations in an attempt to allow the radioactive and non-radioactive gasses – the explosive gasses, to leak out. I just keep thinking that sooner or later a lightning strike is going to cause one of these dumps of perhaps a million bags of radioactive contaminants to go up in fire again… What the Japanese are doing – and I witnessed this, we have some pictures up on the site about this – is they’re taking the bags with the least contamination – and they’re still contaminated – and burning them in incinerators that they’re building. No one is getting good data on what’s coming out those stacks, but I believe that the cesium is being released right up the stack again… I probably went on way too long a rant for that question, but my hat’s off to you for understanding that these piles of bags not only are radioactive but they’re potentially flammable.