A couple of videos ago I talked to you about the types of radiation. I talked about gamma rays, alpha particles and beta particles. There’s one more type, and that’s called a neutron, that I need to talk about today. When a uranium atom splits, it gives off two heavy pieces called daughter products, but it also gives off a couple of neutrons. Those neutrons hit the next uranium atom and cause it to split, and then we get a chain reaction. So, when you see neutrons, that’s an indication that a chain reaction is occurring inside a nuclear reactor. That’s how you determine that it really is a chain reaction.
Some data over the last couple days and weeks have come up that indicate that one of the reactors at Fukushima may still be experiencing a chain reaction. First off, there was a report in one of the English [language] Japanese newspapers that discussed neutron bursts being detected about a mile away from the reactor. Now, that got my curiosity because when I was a startup engineer back in 1974 on Millstone 2, we had neutron problems. We were actually detecting neutrons at the guard shed at the fence boundary. So, I know that nuclear reactors can emit neutrons and they travel a long way. In and of itself, that report wasn’t enough, and it was the only paper that covered it.
Full text and video available at “Newly Released TEPCO Data Provides Evidence of Periodic Chain Reaction at Fukushima Unit 1”.
Another video available at Closing Ranks: The NRC, the Nuclear Industry, and TEPCO are Limiting the Flow of Information.
The Fukushima Daiichi Incident
1. Plant Design
2. Accident Progression
3. Radiological releases
4. Spent fuel pools
5. Sources of Information
For the full slides, go to “3-2011 Areva Fukushima Report”.