Japan’s Battered Fukushima Nuclear Plants – A Global Catastrophe Waiting To Happen?

Mon, 21 May 2012 09:35 CDT

© Unknown
Japanese emergency workers spray water to try to cool reactor units at the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant in 2011.

Akio Matsumura is a former UN diplomat who is very worried about the damaged Fukushima-Daiichi power plants in Japan.

He believes the highly radioactive spent fuel assemblies at the plants present a clear threat to the people of Japan and the world, noting that Reactor 4 and the nearby common spent fuel pool contain over 11,000 highly radioactive spent fuel assemblies, many of which are exposed to the open air.

“The cesium-137, the radioactive component contained in these assemblies, present at the site is 85 times larger than the amount released during the Chernobyl accident. Another magnitude 7.0 earthquake would jar them from their pool or stop the cooling water, which would lead to a nuclear fire and meltdown. The nuclear disaster that would result is beyond anything science has ever seen. Calling it a global catastrophe is no exaggeration,” writes Matsumura in a new article sounding the alarm on what he says is a very bad moon rising.

Matsumura is puzzled. He says if political leaders really understand the situation and the potential catastrophe, “I find it difficult to understand why they remain silent.”

Matsumura argues there are four things that leave little to question.

1. Many scientists believe that it will be impossible to remove the 1,535 fuel assemblies in the pool of Reactor 4 within two or three years.

2. Japanese scientists give a greater than 90 percent probability that an earthquake of at least 7.0 magnitude will occur in the next three years in the close vicinity of Fukushia-Daiichi.

3. The crippled building of Reactor 4 will not stand through another strong earthquake.

4. Japan and the TEPCO do not have adequate nuclear technology and experience to handle a disaster of such proportions alone.

A very real problem says Matsumura is that when looking at the scope of the damage to the plants and surrounding areas, the fact that TEPCO’s December 21, 2011 remediation roadmap proposes to take up to ten years to complete spent fuel removal from all of the pools on the site, is unfathomable in light of the current and near term risks to the people of Japan and the world.

Matsumura argues, as do others, that when considering the compromised nature of these plants due to the events of March 11, 2011, that type of a time schedule “carries extraordinary and continuing risk if further severe seismic events were to occur.”

Has the government of Japan and other world leaders considered the facts above that would lead to a global catastrophe, and do they have a clear strategy to prevent this worst case scenario, he asks?

Matsumura is of the opinion that the government of Japan should lead the way and “embrace all means at its disposal in order to prevent a disaster that would affect our dozens of generations of our descendants.”

The full piece can be read here


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