More than two years after an earthquake and tsunami brought disaster to a nuclear plant in Japan, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) will begin a very dangerous process of removing more than 1,500 nuclear fuel rods from a damaged reactor, a process that has never been attempted before on this scale.
If something goes wrong, it could bring disaster on the order of 10X Chernobyl…
TEPCO will begin taking out 1,500 nuclear fuel assemblies from a cooling pool more than 100 feet above ground at the severely damaged Fukushima #4 reactor where the reactor building exploded, likely due to a build-up of hydrogen from a neighboring reactor.
A robotic crane will pluck the highly irradiated rods from a storage pool at Reactor #4.
If any are dropped or other mishaps occur, a nuclear reaction and radiation could be released into the atmosphere.
Scientists worldwide have warned for well over two years of the global dangers and implications of this process.
The building is blown apart, apparently structurally unsound and is in a state of high risk as the racks holding the nuclear fuel rod assemblies are damaged and deformed from the explosion in March of 2011.
During the critical removal process, if the fuel assemblies touch, or are dropped or break open there is potential for an uncontrolled nuclear reaction and explosion to occur.
Each of the approximate 1,500 fuel rods contain within themselves 350 uranium “pellets”, each of them approximately 1cm x 1cm.
According to Robert Alvarez, former Senior Policy Adviser to the Secretary of Energy, Deputy Assistant Secretary for National Security and one of the nation’s leading experts on spent fuel pools,
“There is more than 37 million curies of long lived radioactivity stored up in the spent fuel just within this single pool. If another severe earthquake were to strike causing the pool to drain, or some other event such as an explosion, it could result in a catastrophic radiological fire releasing nearly 10 times the amount of Cs-137 [into the Earths atmosphere] as was released by the Chernobyl accident.”
-Dept. of Nuclear Engineering, University of California Berkeley
According to Gregory Jaczko, former Chairman of U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission,
“…the upcoming attempt to remove Fukushima Unit 4 spent fuel is unprecedented, the pool has significant structural damage and the overall effort is very risky.”
-Press Conference, 9/24, Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan
According to Yale University Professor Emeritus Charles Perrow, a frequent author for the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists,
“This has me scared.” In the event of an explosion, “Tokyo would have to be evacuated because of cesium and other poisons that are there will spread very rapidly. Even if the wind is blowing the other way it’s going to be monumental.”
According to Mycle Schneider, an energy consultant and adviser to members of the European Parliament and the Int’l Atomic Energy Agency,
“A massive spent fuel fire would likely dwarf the current dimensions of the catastrophe and could exceed the radioactivity releases of Chernobyl dozens of times.”
The fuel removal process is expected to take many months or longer while leaving the spent fuel in the damaged pool is not an option. It has to be done. Let’s hope there are no accidents…
The federal government is making plans for a nuclear disaster…
…with the recent emergency purchase of tens of millions of dollars in medications to help combat radiation sickness.
While they are not publicizing the move, this is your cue. Judging from the near non-existent mainstream news coverage here in the U.S., you might want to consider preparations, just in case.
Hat Tip to Chris at AVOW for the email heads-up and quotes.