Posted by: CS | May 11, 2012

Fukushima: Long past time for decisive action

This time no one dropped a bomb on us … We set the stage, we committed the crime with our own hands, we are destroying our own lands, and we are destroying our own lives. Haruki Murakami

Fukushima: 1920 GMT, 13 March 2011 (source)

The Government of Japan has failed to deal effectively with the Fukushima disaster, which now threatens a global catastrophe.

Asahi Shimbun, May 10, 2012: Mitsuhei Murata, 74, a professor emeritus at Tokaigakuen University who once served as Japan’s ambassador to Switzerland, said, “The existence of the No. 4 reactor has become a major national security issue for the entire world…”

“If an accident should occur at the No. 4 reactor, it could be called the start of the ultimate catastrophe for the world,” Murata said as a witness at an Upper House Budget Committee hearing in March….

Compared with the No. 1 to No. 3 reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, which all experienced meltdowns, the No. 4 reactor was not seriously damaged by the March 11, 2011, quake and tsunami because it was undergoing a periodic inspection at the time.

However, the No. 4 reactor building houses a storage pool containing 1,535 spent fuel rods, the largest number of any of the reactors.

An explosion and fire at the No. 4 reactor blew away the walls and roof of the steel-reinforced concrete building, so the reactor building was hit by major structural damage.

Moreover, the storage pool is still not covered and remains exposed to the atmosphere. That situation has raised serious questions about what would happen if another quake with an intensity of 7 struck the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

Murata has his own predictions.

“If the storage pool should collapse and the 1,535 fuel rods began burning in the atmosphere, an endless amount of radiation would be emitted. Of course, that would mean that Tokyo would become unlivable,” he said.

Murata continued: “Just 50 meters from the No. 4 reactor is the common pool for the No. 1 to No. 6 reactors. The common pool holds 6,375 spent nuclear fuel rods. If a fire should occur at the No. 4 reactor pool, the common pool would also not stand a chance.”

That is the potential crisis at the No. 4 reactor that is causing so much fear around the world.

In fact, immediately after last year’s accident, the biggest concern raised by the United States was the storage pool at the No. 4 reactor. …

Arnie Gundersen, a U.S. nuclear engineer who visited Japan in February, has raised other concerns. …

He said the spent nuclear fuel in the No. 4 reactor pool is equivalent to several reactor cores and contains radiation equal to the amount released in the atmosphere by all past nuclear experiments.

Gundersen has also written that the No. 4 reactor building’s structure has weakened, the building is tilted, and that he has advised friends in Tokyo to immediately evacuate should the No. 4 reactor collapse.

TEPCO on April 26 issued a press release that disputed Gundersen’s claims.

“The No. 4 reactor building is not tilted and it, including the storage pool, will not be destroyed by a quake,” it said. …

TEPCO officials also explained that the steel support at the base of the pool and concrete wall had been reinforced by last July, which has increased by 20 percent the leeway against a possible quake.

In addition, the utility conducted a simulation exercise using analytical models that showed that even if a lower-6 intensity quake were to strike the plant again, it would not collapse.

So Tepco says they have “increased by 20% the leeway against a possible quake.” Great. The risk of doomsday reduced by 20%.

And, says Tepco, it has “conducted a simulation exercise using analytical models that showed that even if a lower-6 intensity quake were to strike the plant again, it would not collapse.”

Oh that’s simply wonderful — unless a higher-6 intensity quake were to strike the plant, or maybe a 7 intensity quake, or an 8 intensity quake or, as they had on the day of the Tsunami, a 9 intensity quake, which would be a thousand times greater than the lower-6 quake that Tepco are confident the No. 4 spent fuel pool can withstand.

When is the president of Tepco going to commit sepuku?

When in the Prime Minister of Japan going to step down?

When is the Government of Japan going to nationalize Tepco and deal with Fukushima as an emergency?

When is Japan going to call on all of the World’s major engineering consultancies to submit proposals for remedial measures for implementation with all possible speed?

When will Japan evacuate all children within the zone of significant radioactive contamination?

When will the Government of Japan provide evacuees from the innermost zone of contamination with proper housing instead of cardboard boxes?

When will Japan begin building a barrage around the Fukushima waterfront to contain leakage of radiation from the stricken plant, which threatens to poison the oceans and fisheries of the World?

When will the Japanese Government, which has over the last twenty years dispensed untold billions on roads to nowhere, grasp that Fukushima is the ultimate stimulus program with national destruction as a quite conceivable alternative?

When will Japanese people by the million decide the only sensible thing to do is to emigrate?

And when will Canada reopen its visa application office in Japan? Or are we no longer a nation offering safe haven to those fleeing for their lives.

POSTSCRIPT

Globe and Mail, May 10, 2012: The government of Japan approved Wednesday a ¥1-trillion ($12.6-billion) public bailout for the operator of Japan’s tsunami-devastated nuclear power plant and put it under temporary state control. In exchange, Tokyo Electric Power Co. Inc. has appointed new management and pledged to cut costs while raising utility rates on power from its other plants as it works to stabilize the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant and compensate tens of thousands of victims of the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

“I hope Tokyo Electric will work to win back public trust,” Economy and Trade Minister Yukio Edano said.

Hey, Yukio, let’s not do anything, eh. Just keep our fingers crossed. Duh.

Time, now, for a new Japanese Government that the World can trust.

And see:

Fukushima kids sue for evacuation

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