Last updated on April 7th, 2014
The world has become largely desensitized to what has happened and what is still happening in the wake of the nuclear disaster at the Daiichi nuclear plant in Fukushima Japan more than a year ago. Arnie Gunderson of Fairewinds Associates, with more than 40 years experience in the nuclear industry explains that the three reactors continue to melt down. However even more disconcerting is the apparent fact that the ‘fuel pools’ of reactors 3 and 4 may be threatening the whole Northern Hemisphere.
You see, the fuel pools (the nuclear fuel storage pools) are themselves suspended three and four stories high in the air, and have badly damaged structural support. Should either of these fall over and lose their cooling fluid, the thousands of fuel rods will overheat and explode, and threaten a world scale disaster never before seen.
Even a crack in the fuel pool would be enough to bring on catastrophe, and at a minimum, be the end of Tokyo, as reported on Asahi TV and translated on enenews.com.
The present conditions of Unit 4 are like this. You see, almost no walls. They were blown off, and honestly speaking, the Unit 4 is a wreck. A wreck.
Now, what if an earthquake occurred right now and the water in the pool started to leak?
I asked this question to Dr. Koide.
If a large aftershock occurred and the wall here collapsed, the water in the pool would leak out and the spent fuel would not be cooled any more. Then, they would start to melt, probably completely. And huge amount of radiation contained in the spend fuel would be released outside, with no walls to block it.
What if a destructive earthquake occurred during those years?
That would be the end. The end? Yes.
You see, that would be the end.
This is a serious problem.
TEPCO knows dealing with this problem is most important for now.
Reactor #3 had completely blown it’s walls apart leaving the fuel pool (what’s left of it) and the rest of the rubble entirely open. Reactor #4 had it’s roof blown off and has almost no walls remaining. The primary concern is that of earthquakes in the region, and the possibility of an already weakened structure collapsing, leaving no further means to manually keep the thousands of spent fuel rods cool.
I read the following comment from a professor of physics, “There is no containment – between you and hundreds of tons of spent and fresh fuel is just some water, and air, and time. Ask yourself – what is the next step with the Unit 4 spent fuel pool? What has been done in the past year except to fill it with water and hope for the best? What happens if it fails catastrophically?”
The situation there, is and has been on the razor edge of full-on world catastrophe.
Japan’s former Ambassador to Switzerland, Mr. Mitsuhei Murata, was invited to speak at the Public Hearing of the Budgetary Committee of the House of Councilors on March 22, 2012, on the Fukushima nuclear power plants accident. Before the Committee, Ambassador Murata strongly stated that if the crippled building of reactor unit 4—with 1,535 fuel rods in the spent fuel pool 100 feet (30 meters) above the ground—collapses, not only will it cause a shutdown of all six reactors but will also affect the common spent fuel pool containing 6,375 fuel rods, located some 50 meters from reactor 4. In both cases the radioactive rods are not protected by a containment vessel; dangerously, they are open to the air. This would certainly cause a global catastrophe like we have never before experienced. He stressed that the responsibility of Japan to the rest of the world is immeasurable. Such a catastrophe would affect us all for centuries. Ambassador Murata informed us that the total numbers of the spent fuel rods at the Fukushima Daiichi site excluding the rods in the pressure vessel is 11,421 (396+615+566+1,535+994+940+6375).
Based on U.S. Energy Department data, assuming a total of 11,138 spent fuel assemblies are being stored at the Dai-Ichi site, nearly all, which is in pools. They contain roughly 336 million curies (~1.2 E+19 Bq) of long-lived radioactivity. About 134 million curies is Cesium-137 — roughly 85 times the amount of Cs-137 released at the Chernobyl accident as estimated by the U.S. National Council on Radiation Protection (NCRP). The total spent reactor fuel inventory at the Fukushima-Daichi site contains nearly half of the total amount of Cs-137 estimated by the NCRP to have been released by all atmospheric nuclear weapons testing, Chernobyl, and world-wide reprocessing plants (~270 million curies or ~9.9 E+18 Becquerel).
A recent quote in the Japan Times says it all, from Hiroshi Tasaka, who has a doctorate in nuclear engineering and is now a professor at Tama University, “The biggest risk during the meltdown crisis wasn’t the reactors themselves but the spent fuel pools sitting atop them, particularly the one above reactor 4, which still contains about 1,500 nuclear fuel assemblies;” “I would say the crisis just opened Pandora’s box“.