It has been created outside of the lab at least five times -- once at the Three Mile Island reactor in 1979, once in Chernobyl in 1986, and three separate times during the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown in 2011. It's made by melting fuel pellets or rods in nuclear reactors, which then assimilate concrete and whatever else they touch, making radioactive "lava." It's called corium, and it remains radioactive for centuries. Artur Korneyev, a dark-humored Kazakhstani nuclear inspector, has a lot of experience with it, especially the "elephant foot" in the Chernobyl sarcophagus. [more inside]
Ever wonder what happened to Fukushima Storage Unit #4? You remember, the one filled with 1,500 wet stored and combustible fuel rods that threaten a total of ~134 million curies of radioactive cesium137 and, at least as of last April, seemed to be in maybe not such great shape? (PREVIOUSLY) This August, TEPCO released a comprehensive and easily understandable report on the condition of the structure as well as measures being done to both reinforce it against likely earthquakes and ultimately remove the fuel rods, which are still hot enough to require wet storage elsewhere (PDF). On the other hand, Kohei Murata, the former Japanese Ambassador to Switzerland who had the attention of the world during the crisis, remains both unimpressed and eschatological.
Barizogon ("bitter condemnation") is a 1992 indie Japanese docudrama about Fukushima Daiichi and Daini nuclear power plants and is a dramatization of the life and "accidental" death in 1989 of the whistle-blowing Nao--a twenty-six-year-old who takes on crooked campaigning and a cover-up at the unsafe nuclear plant where everyone in Okuma works. The movie is available (with subtitles) on YouTube: Part 1. The whole series of YouTube videos are collected on this blog. [more inside]
Reactor shutdowns nine months away: Tokyo Electric Power Co. announced Sunday that it will take six to nine months to complete a cold shutdown of the damaged reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant, while the United States proposed a daring plan to use a remote-controlled helicopter and cranes to pluck out their spent fuel rods... If all goes well, displaced residents from the evacuation zone should know within six to nine months whether they will be able to go home, trade minister Banri Kaieda said. [Previously] [Open MeFi pro vs. con nuclear policy thread] [more inside]
The long running "eyeball" series from noted cryptography and information freedom site Cryptome [many previously] hosts hi-res photos of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear site taken from a UAV and inside the stricken plant. Also eyeball shots of other Japanese nuclear reactors.