NRC Chair: “No Water In The Spent Fuel Pool” at Unit 4

Mar 16, 2011 5:13pm

ABC News’ Mary Bruce reports:

The chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission warned this afternoon that all of the water is gone from the spent fuel pool at reactor four of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, causing “extremely high” radiation levels.

“We believe that secondary containment has been destroyed and there is no water in the spent fuel pool and we believe that radiation levels are extremely high which could possibly impact the ability to take corrective measures,” NRC Chair Gregory Jaczko told the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

He suspected a hydrogen explosion occurred in the unit, due to the uncovering of the fuel in the pool.

Asked for clarification, Jaczko explained “we believe at this point that unit four may have lost a significant inventory, if not lost all of its water.”

The pools are designed to cool spent fuel rods. Without water, the exposed fuel rods risk overheating, which could lead to a melt down or explosion.

Jaczko did not say where his information was coming from and Japanese officials denied his claim that water is gone from the spent fuel pool, according to the Associated Press.

Jaczko also said that the “integrity has been compromised” at the spent fuel pool at unit 3. “What we know at unit three, and again our information is limited, what we believe is that there is a crack in the spent fuel pool for unit three as well, which could lead to a loss of water in that pool,” he said.

Earlier in the day the U.S. recommended that all American citizens in Japan evacuate a 50 mile radius surrounding the Fukushima nuclear reactors, in light of the ongoing nuclear crisis.

“The NRC made a recommendation that based on the available information that we have, that for a comparable situation in the United States we would recommend an evacuation to a much larger radius than has currently been provided in Japan. As a result of this recommendation, the Ambassador in Japan has issued a statement to American citizens that we believe it is appropriate to evacuate to a larger distance, up to approximately 50 miles,” Jaczko explained.

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