David Lochbaum is one of the most knowledgeable nuclear experts I have ever known. In this interview he talks about what will undoubtedly be the next big problem, the spent fuel pools at the reactors.
The announcement by the Japanese government that sea water is being pumped into the damaged reactor building at the Fukushima signals the failure of all contingency plans to prevent a meltdown of the fuel in the reactor itself. It leaves open the question of the safety of the hundreds of tons of spent fuel stored nearby in pools 40 feet deep. It is not clear if the structural integrity of the pool has been maintained or if the explosion has damaged the irradiated fuel bundles or the water flow systems serving them. David Lochbaum, nuclear safety engineer of the Union of Concerned Scientists and a consultant to both industry and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said in an interview this evening that the declaration by the government that the massive hydrogen explosion had not destroyed the reactor vessel itself was only part of the story.