TEPCO has made a brief endoscopic (visual) inspection inside the primary containment structure surrounding the unit two Reactor Pressure Vessel (RPV). What seems surprising to TEPCO and the Japanese Press, is no indication of melted fuel outside the RPV. TEPCO spokesperson Junichi Matsumoto told Japan Times, “We could not spot any signs of fuel, unfortunately.” He added that the endoscopic device used for the inspection only looked at a small portion of the interior, so a better inspection technology and longer visual examinations should find evidence of melted fuel having leaked from the RPV. Or will they?
I suspect the problem is neither technological nor temporal. I have maintained since the Fukushima Daiichi control room records were released in July that unit #2 probably did not experience a full, core-relocating meltdown. Severe fuel damage inside the fuel cell is a given. From the operator records, it seems the fuel cell was completely uncovered and had no cooling water flow whatsoever for up to 5 hours. With unit #2 generating the lowest decay heat rate and after four days of continual decay heat reduction, that isn’t enough time for a total catastrophic meltdown! Some melting is probable in the upper, central portions of the core. Perhaps even the severe degree of melting found at TMI in 1984. But not the core-relocating event postulated by TEPCO. In other words, TEPCO can look all they want, and express as much disappointment as they wish for not finding evidence of RPV melt-through, but I believe they are chasing a phantom. A few corium drips solidified on the vessel-penetrating control rod mechanisms? Maybe. But a melt-through just doesn’t seem likely to me, and the preliminary endoscopic images taken yesterday only add fuel to my fire.
This blog is probably the singular place on the internet you will find this speculation….I’ve been looking diligently for months and have found this assumption nowhere else. If I’m wrong, I’ll be the first to admit it and ask that my crow be served medium rare with fries and plenty of ketchup. But, that’s one meal I don’t think I’ll have to eat.