The advertiser supported media cannot bring itself to admit that the hype and fear mongering that they indulged in for weeks after the Great North East Japan earthquake and tsunami were based on wild “worst case scenario” fantasies. Here is a recent report that carried the following attention grabbing headline:
In meltdown, Japan dodged even bigger disaster
A more accurate, but perhaps less attention grabbing headline would have been “Fukushima Containment Worked as Designed.”
Based on the interpretations published by people I trust to understand nuclear energy and technology terms better than the commercial news media, it seems to me that CBS reporters have misinterpreted the information that Tepco released. Here is a quote from Will Davis’s excellent Atomic Power Review:
The NHK report indicates a melt depth of about 2.1 feet. The distance to the ground is roughly eighteen times this depth from the dry well interior floor to grade. Below is a drawing from WASH-1082 which I’ve marked to show the distance from the dry well floor to the grade outside, which on the particular plant shown is 39′ 0″. I do not presently know the exact measurement at Fukushima Daiichi No. 1 but it is likely within ten percent of this measurement… meaning that in the worst case that TEPCO is describing, by its own data, the core material may have melted only about as much as 5% of the distance to the grade.
The melted core material did not even get close to exiting the container that was designed to retain it. And this was a case where the reactor was operating at full power and then lost all cooling within a few minutes. It is hard to get much worse than that.