Environment Magazine

Fukushima Disaster Reaches Epic Proportions

Posted on the 27 September 2013 by Earth First! Newswire @efjournal

by Christina Serich / Nation of Change

Consuming cesium-tainted fish is probably about to be one of your least concerns. Most of us were already aware of the generalities of Fukushima’s defunct nuclear reactor seeping tons of toxic and radioactive iodone, cesium, and strontium-89 and 90 into the Pacific Ocean. We perhaps said a prayer and vowed to start consuming fish from other oceans. Now, there is news of Fukushima’s damaged Unit 4 pool, that a Yale professor warns “is in perilous danger and could threaten all of humanity for thousands of years.”

This is one of the biggest crises we’ve faced as a human race, as some have put it, since the disarming of the Soviet Union or the Cuban Missile Crisis. We need every activist to call for immediate action and all resources to be provided to the Fukushima plant without further finger pointing at the plant’s owner, Tokyo Electric (Tepco) in order for this calamity to be averted.

Within as few as 60 days, Tepco will begin trying to remove more than 1500 spent fuel rods from a badly damaged area of the nuclear reactor:

“[...] Much more serious is the danger that the spent fuel rod pool at the top of the nuclear plant number four will collapse in a storm or an earthquake, or in a failed attempt to carefully remove each of the 1,535 rods and safely transport them to the common storage pool 50 meters away. Conditions in the unit 4 pool, 100 feet from the ground, are perilous, and if any two of the rods touch it could cause a nuclear reaction that would be uncontrollable. The radiation emitted from all these rods, if they are not continually cool and kept separate, would require the evacuation of surrounding areas including Tokyo. Because of the radiation at the site the 6,375 rods in the common storage pool could not be continuously cooled; they would fission and all of humanity will be threatened, for thousands of years.”

Tepco has alluded to the fact that they don’t have the resources or expertise to try to remove these fuel rods safely, even though early on they tried to downplay the seriousness of the Fukushima event. The company already faces bankruptcy, but there is a much larger matter at hand. If the rods are not removed properly, more than 400 tons of fuel in that pool could spew out more than 15,000 times the radiation that was released at Hiroshima. We can’t leave this to Tepco and the Japanese government to handle. It is no longer a ‘foreign’ issue, but a worldwide concern to be taken extremely seriously.

Forget about just eating irradiated fish in California, or having to give up your favorite sushi joint, Tepco is playing with the devil’s fire now. There are three other mutilated reactors that have to be kept cool. The company continues to pour more water, which becomes toxic with radiation as it pours through the reactor cores. Steam plumes seen on site may even indicate that the process of nuclear fission is still taking place underground. No one even really knows where the cores are located. That irradiated water has already been pouring into some very fragile tanks to keep it from further spewing into the Pacific Ocean, and many scientists say that were this water to be leaked, it would not disperse fast enough to remain ‘safe’ for ocean life, and have nearly cataclysmic affects for the world at large.

Furthermore, the water currently swishing through the site, like so much washing-machine waste is undermining the overall structural integrity of the units, including Unit 4. Just a few meters from Unit 4, now sit more than 6000 fuel assemblies in a common pool. It has no containment and is completely vulnerable, is there was a small earthquake or a tiny tsunami, or the current rods were extracted without meticulous care, then we could expect nuclear fall out like we’ve never seen on this planet.

“According to long-time expert and former Department of Energy official Robert Alvarez, there is more than 85 times as much lethal cesium on site as was released at Chernobyl.”

Arnie Gunderson, a nuclear engineer with more than 40 years of experience in the field says that the fuel rods are possibly damaged, bent and crumbling beyond repair. Nonetheless, the safe removal of those fuel rods is the  most immediate concern. It won’t just be children in Japan suffering from thyroid disease and radiation poisoning otherwise. If you know scientists in this field who might be able to help, or you can urge your president or politicians to support this cause, please do so. Time is, quite literally, of the essence.

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog