September 15, 2013
The fact that the Fukushima reactors have been leaking huge amounts of radioactive water ever since the 2011 earthquake is certainly newsworthy. As are the facts that:
Scientists have no idea where the cores of the nuclear reactors are
Radiation could hit Korea, China and the West Coast of North America fairly hard
But the real problem is that the idiots who caused this mess are probably about to cause a much bigger problem.
Specifically, the greatest short-term threat to humanity is from the fuel pools at Fukushima.
If one of the pools collapsed or caught fire, it could have severe adverse impacts not only on Japan … but the rest of the world, including the United States. Indeed, a Senator called it a national security concern for the U.S.:
The radiation caused by the failure of the spent fuel pools in the event of another earthquake could reach the West Coast within days. That absolutely makes the safe containment and protection of this spent fuel a security issue for the United States.
Move south of the equator if that ever happened, I think that’s probably the lesson there.
Former U.N. adviser Akio Matsumura calls removing the radioactive materials from the Fukushima fuel pools “an issue of human survival”.
So the stakes in decommissioning the fuel pools are high, indeed.
But in 2 months, Tepco – the knuckleheads who caused the accident – are going to start doing this very difficult operation on their own.
The New York Times reports:
Thousands of workers and a small fleet of cranes are preparing for one of the latest efforts to avoid a deepening environmental disaster that has China and other neighbors increasingly worried: removing spent fuel rods from the damaged No. 4 reactor building and storing them in a safer place.
The Telegraph notes:
Tom Snitch, a senior professor at the University of Maryland and with more than 30 years’ experience in nuclear issues, said “[Japan officials] need to address the real problems, the spent fuel rods in Unit 4 and the leaking pressure vessels,” he said. “There has been too much work done wiping down walls and duct work in the reactors for any other reason then to do something…. This is a critical global issue and Japan must step up.”
The Japan Times writes:
In November, Tepco plans to begin the delicate operation of removing spent fuel from Reactor No. 4 [with] radiation equivalent to 14,000 times the amount released by the Hiroshima atomic bomb. …. It remains vulnerable to any further shocks, and is also at risk from ground liquefaction. Removing its spent fuel, which contains deadly plutonium, is an urgent task…. The consequences could be far more severe than any nuclear accident the world has ever seen. If a fuel rod is dropped, breaks or becomes entangled while being removed, possible worst case scenarios include a big explosion, a meltdown in the pool, or a large fire. Any of these situations could lead to massive releases of deadly radionuclides into the atmosphere, putting much of Japan — including Tokyo and Yokohama — and even neighboring countries at serious risk.
CNBC points out:
The radioactive leak at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant is far from under control and could get a lot worse, a nuclear energy expert, who compiles the annual “World Nuclear Industry Status Report” warned.
The big danger – and it was identified by Japan’s atomic energy commission – is if you lose water in one of the spent fuel pools and you get a spent fuel fire.
[Mycle Schneider, nuclear consultant:] The situation could still get a lot worse. 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. First, the pool walls could leak beyond the capacity to deliver cooling water or a reactor building could collapse following one of the hundred of aftershocks. Then, the fuel cladding could ignite spontaneously releasing its entire radioactive inventory.
The operator of Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is preparing to remove 400 tons of highly irradiated spent fuel from a damaged reactor building, a dangerous operation that has never been attempted before on this scale.
Containing radiation equivalent to 14,000 times the amount released in the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima 68 years ago, more than 1,300 used fuel rod assemblies packed tightly together need to be removed from a building that is vulnerable to collapse, should another large earthquake hit the area.
Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) is already in a losing battle to stop radioactive water overflowing from another part of the facility, and experts question whether it will be able to pull off the removal of all the assemblies successfully.
“They are going to have difficulty in removing a significant number of the rods,” said Arnie Gundersen, a veteran U.S. nuclear engineer and director of Fairewinds Energy Education, who used to build fuel assemblies.
The operation, beginning this November at the plant’s Reactor No. 4, is fraught with danger, including the possibility of a large release of radiation if a fuel assembly breaks, gets stuck or gets too close to an adjacent bundle, said Gundersen and other nuclear experts.
That could lead to a worse disaster than the March 2011 nuclear crisis at the Fukushima plant, the world’s most serious since Chernobyl in 1986.
No one knows how bad it can get, but independent consultants Mycle Schneider and Antony Froggatt said recently in their World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2013: “Full release from the Unit-4 spent fuel pool, without any containment or control, could cause by far the most serious radiological disaster to date.”
The utility says it recognizes the operation will be difficult but believes it can carry it out safely.
Nonetheless, Tepco inspires little confidence. Sharply criticized for failing to protect the Fukushima plant against natural disasters, its handling of the crisis since then has also been lambasted.
The process will begin in November and Tepco expects to take about a year removing the assemblies, spokesman Yoshikazu Nagai told Reuters by e-mail. It’s just one installment in the decommissioning process for the plant forecast to take about 40 years and cost $11 billion.
Each fuel rod assembly weighs about 300 kilograms (660 pounds) and is 4.5 meters (15 feet) long. There are 1,331 of the spent fuel assemblies and a further 202 unused assemblies are also stored in the pool, Nagai said.
Spent fuel rods also contain plutonium, one of the most toxic substances in the universe, that gets formed during the later stages of a reactor core’s operation.
“There is a risk of an inadvertent criticality if the bundles are distorted and get too close to each other,” Gundersen said.
He was referring to an atomic chain reaction that left unchecked could result in a large release of radiation and heat that the fuel pool cooling system isn’t designed to absorb.
“The problem with a fuel pool criticality is that you can’t stop it. There are no control rods to control it,” Gundersen said. “The spent fuel pool cooling system is designed only to remove decay heat, not heat from an ongoing nuclear reaction.”
The rods are also vulnerable to fire should they be exposed to air, Gundersen said. [The pools have already boiled due to exposure to air.]
Tepco has shored up the building, which may have tilted and was bulging after the explosion, a source of global concern that has been raised in the U.S. Congress.
The fuel assemblies have to be first pulled from the racks they are stored in, then inserted into a heavy steel chamber. This operation takes place under water before the chamber, which shields the radiation pulsating from the rods, can be removed from the pool and lowered to ground level.
The chamber is then transported to the plant’s common storage pool in an undamaged building where the assemblies will be stored.
[Here is a visual tour of Fukushima’s fuel pools, along with graphics of how the rods will be removed.]
Tepco confirmed the Reactor No. 4 fuel pool contains debris during an investigation into the chamber earlier this month.
Removing the rods from the pool is a delicate task normally assisted by computers, according to Toshio Kimura, a former Tepco technician, who worked at Fukushima Daiichi for 11 years.
“Previously it was a computer-controlled process that memorized the exact locations of the rods down to the millimeter and now they don’t have that. It has to be done manually so there is a high risk that they will drop and break one of the fuel rods,” Kimura said.
Corrosion from the salt water will have also weakened the building and equipment, he said.
And if an another strong earthquake strikes before the fuel is fully removed that topples the building or punctures the pool and allow the water to drain, a spent fuel fire releasing more radiation than during the initial disaster is possible, threatening about Tokyo 200 kilometers (125 miles) away.
ABC Radio Australia quotes an expert on the situation (at 1:30):
Richard Tanter, expert on nuclear power issues and professor of international relations at the University of Melbourne:
Reactor Unit 4, the one which has a very large amount of stored fuel in its fuel storage pool, that is sinking. According to former prime Minister Kan Naoto, that has sunk some 31 inches in places and it’s not uneven. This is really not surprising given what’s happened in terms of pumping of water, the aftermath of the earthquake and the tsunami, the continuing infusions of water into the groundwater area. This is an immediate problem, and if it is not resolved there is an extraordinary possibility we really could be back at March 2011 again because of the possibility of a fission accident in that spent fuel pond in Unit No. 4.
Mitsuhei Murata, a former Japanese ambassador to Switzerland has officially called for the withdrawalof Tokyo’s Olympic bid, due to the worsening crisis at Fukushima, which experts believe is not limited to storage tanks, but also potential cracks in the walls of the spent nuclear fuel pools.
Japan Focus points out:
The spent-fuel pool … was damaged by the earthquake and tsunami, and is in adeteriorating condition. It remains vulnerable to any further shocks, and is also at risk from ground liquefaction.
If a fuel rod is dropped, breaks or becomes entangled while being removed, possible worst case scenarios include a big explosion, a meltdown in the pool, or a large fire.
This is literally a matter of national security – another mistake by TEPCO could have incredibly costly, even fatal, consequences for Japan.
Like Pulling Cigarettes Out of a Crumpled Pack
Fuel rod expert Arnie Gundersen – a nuclear engineer and former senior manager of a nuclear power company which manufactured nuclear fuel rods – recently explained the biggest problem with the fuel rods (at 15:45):
I think they’re belittling the complexity of the task. If you think of a nuclear fuel rack as a pack of cigarettes, if you pull a cigarette straight up it will come out — but these racks have been distorted. Now when they go to pull the cigarette straight out, it’s going to likely break and release radioactive cesium and other gases, xenon and krypton, into the air. I suspect come November, December, January we’re going to hear that the building’s been evacuated, they’ve broke a fuel rod, the fuel rod is off-gassing.
I suspect we’ll have more airborne releases as they try to pull the fuel out. If they pull too hard, they’ll snap the fuel. I think the racks have been distorted, the fuel has overheated — the pool boiled – and the net effect is that it’s likely some of the fuel will be stuck in there for a long, long time.
In another interview, Gundersen provides additional details (at 31:00):
The racks are distorted from the earthquake — oh, by the way, the roof has fallen in, which further distorted the racks.
The net effect is they’ve got the bundles of fuel, the cigarettes in these racks, and as they pull them out, they’re likely to snap a few. When you snap a nuclear fuel rod, that releases radioactivity again, so my guess is, it’s things like krypton-85, which is a gas, cesium will also be released, strontium will be released. They’ll probably have to evacuate the building for a couple of days. They’ll take that radioactive gas and they’ll send it up the stack, up into the air, because xenon can’t be scrubbed, it can’t be cleaned, so they’ll send that radioactive xenon up into the air and purge the building of all the radioactive gases and then go back in and try again.
It’s likely that that problem will exist on more than one bundle. So over the next year or two, it wouldn’t surprise me that either they don’t remove all the fuel because they don’t want to pull too hard, or if they do pull to hard, they’re likely to damage the fuel and cause a radiation leak inside the building. So that’s problem #2 in this process, getting the fuel out of Unit 4 is a top priority I have, but it’s not going to be easy. Tokyo Electric is portraying this as easy. In a normal nuclear reactor, all of this is done with computers. Everything gets pulled perfectly vertically. Well nothing is vertical anymore, the fuel racks are distorted, it’s all going to have to be done manually. The net effect is it’s a really difficult job. It wouldn’t surprise me if they snapped some of the fuel and they can’t remove it.
And Chris Harris – a, former licensed Senior Reactor Operator and engineer – notes that it doesn’t help that a lot of the rods are in very fragile condition:
Although there are a lot of spent fuel assemblies in there which could achieve criticality — there are also 200 new fuel assemblies which have equivalent to a full tank of gas, let’s call it that. Those are the ones most likely to go critical first.
Some pictures that were released recently show that a lot of fuel is damaged, so when they go ahead and put the grapple on it, and they pull it up, it’s going to fall apart. The boreflex has been eaten away; it doesn’t take saltwater very good.
Like Letting a Murderer Perform Brain Surgery On a VIP
What’s the bottom line?
Tepco has an abysmal track record:
Engineers warned Tepco and the Japanese government many years before the accident that the reactors were seismically unsafe … and that an earthquake could wipe them out
The Fukushima reactors were fatally damaged before the tsunami hit … the earthquake took them out even before the tidal wave hit
An official Japanese government investigation concluded that the Fukushima accident was a “man-made” disaster, caused by “collusion” between government and Tepco and bad reactor design
Tepco knew right after the 2011 accident that 3 nuclear reactors had lost containment, that the nuclear fuel had “gone missing”, and that there was in fact no real containment at all. Tepco has desperately been trying to cover this up for 2 and a half years … instead pretending that the reactors were in “cold shutdown”
Tepco just admitted that it’s known for 2 years that massive amounts of radioactive water are leaking into the groundwater and Pacific Ocean
Tepco’s recent attempts to solidify the ground under the reactors using chemicals has backfired horribly. And NBC News notes: “[Tepco] is considering freezing the ground around the plant. Essentially building a mile-long ice wall underground, something that’s never been tried before to keep the water out. One scientist I spoke to dismissed this idea as grasping at straws, just more evidence that the power company failed to anticipate this problem … and now cannot solve it.”
Letting Tepco remove the fuel rods is like letting a convicted murderer perform delicate brain surgery on a VIP.
Top scientists and government officials say that Tepco should be removed from all efforts to stabilize Fukushima. An international team of the smartest engineers and scientists should handle this difficult “surgery”.
The stakes are high …
Fukushima Falling Apart … Because Plant Operator Has No Incentive to Spend Money to Fix It
Mainstream Media Awakens to the fact that Fukushima Is Still a Total Mess
After visiting Fukushima a year ago, Senator Ron Wyden warned that the situation was worse than reported … and urged Japan to accept international help to stabilize dangerous spent fuel pools.
A year ago, former U.N. adviser Akio Matsumura – whose praises have been sung by Mikhail Gorbachev, U.S. Ambassadors Stephen Bosworth and Glenn Olds, and former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State and Goldman Sachs co-chair John C. Whitehead – noted:
The current Japanese government has not yet mentioned the looming disaster, ostensibly to not incite panic in the public. Nevertheless, action must be taken quickly. *** We believe an independent, international team of structural engineers and other advisers must be assembled and deployed immediately.
Yesterday – after Fukushima reactor operator Tepco’s recklessness and nickel-and-diming cheapness in dealing with the post-accident response caused new releases of radioactivity – the New York Times reported:
Increasingly, experts are arguing that the plant’s operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, or Tepco, cannot be trusted to lead what is expected to be decades of cleanup and the decommissioning of the plant’s reactors without putting the public, and the environment, at risk.
“The Fukushima Daiichi plant remains in an unstable condition, and there is concern that we cannot prevent another accident,” Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, said at a news conference.
“No wonder the water is leaking,” said Hideo Komine, a professor in civil engineering at Ibaraki University, just south of Fukushima. He said that the outer protective lining should have been hundreds of times thicker.
Muneo Morokuzu, a nuclear safety expert at the Tokyo University Graduate School of Public Policy, said that the plant required a more permanent solution that would reduce the flood of contaminated water into the plant in the first place, and that Tepco was simply unable to manage the situation. “It’s become obvious that Tepco is not at all capable of leading the cleanup,” he said. “It just doesn’t have the expertise, and because Fukushima Daiichi is never going to generate electricity again, every yen it spends on the decommissioning is thrown away.”
“That creates an incentive to cut corners, which is very dangerous,” he said. “The government needs to step in, take charge and assemble experts and technology from around the world to handle the decommissioning instead.”
This is just like BP’s massive efforts to hide the extent and damage from the oil spill – even though their approach led to greater oil pollution – in order to avoid costs. (And the big banks’ cover up of the extent and damage from criminal fraud on the U.S. economy.)
AP provides additional details:
A makeshift system of pipes, tanks and power cables meant to carry cooling water into the melted reactors and spent fuel pools inside shattered buildings remains highly vulnerable, Nuclear Regulation Authority chairman Shunichi Tanaka acknowledged Wednesday.
The problems have raised doubts about whether the plant can stay intact through a decommissioning process that could take 40 years, prompting officials to compile risk-reduction measures and revise decommissioning plans.
Just over the past three weeks, there have been at least eight accidents or problems at the plant, the nuclear watchdog said.
Experts suspect the radioactive water has been leaking since early in the crisis, citing high contamination in fish caught in waters just off the plant.
“The nuclear crisis is far from over,” the nationwide Mainichi newspaper said in a recent editorial. “There is a limit to what the patchwork operation can do on a jury-rigged system.”
You Won’t BELIEVE What’s Going On at Fukushima Right Now
Tepco Has No Idea How to Stabilize the Reactors
You’ve heard bad news about Fukushima recently.
But it’s worse than you know.
The Wall Street Journal notes that radiation levels outside the plant are likely higher than inside the reactor:
NRA [Nuclear Regulation Authority] officials said highly contaminated water may be leaking into the soil from a number of trenches, allowing the water to seep into the site’s groundwater and eventually into the ocean.
Both radioactive substances are considered harmful to health. An NRA official said Monday that the very high levels were likely to be even higher than those within the reactor units themselves.
It was by far the highest concentration of radioactivity detected since soon after Japan’s March 2011 earthquake and tsunami ….
And the problems which have been detected at ground-level are only the tip of the iceberg. Japan Timespoints out:
Cesium levels in water under Fukushima No. 1 plant soar the deeper it gets, Tepco reveals
Tepco found 950 million becquerels of cesium and 520 million becquerels of beta ray-emitting radioactive substances, including strontium, in the water from 13 meters [~43 feet] underground.
Water from 1 meter down contained 340 million becquerels, and a sample from 7 meters down contained 350 million becquerels.
Cesium, a metallic element, is subject to gravity.
Yomiuri reports that highly-radioactive groundwater could start coming to the surface at the Fukushima plant:
TEPCO spokesman Noriyuki Imaizumi revealed the water level of the tainted groundwater in a test well located on the sea side of the No. 2 reactor has risen rapidly.
“If the water level continues to rise, it could reach the ground surface,” Imaizumi, an acting general manager of the company’s nuclear power-related division, said at a press conference Monday.
According to the company, the water level has risen about 70 centimeters over the past 20 days.
To prevent contaminated groundwater from leaking into the sea, TEPCO is working to reinforce the ground foundation of seawalls. The rising water level in the test well means the measures to prevent leakage have been working.
However, the company apparently failed to give much thought to the fact that the groundwater would have nowhere else to go ….
Even Tepco admits that the groundwater problems are due to a lack of planning. NHK points out:
[Tepco] learnt on Wednesday that its efforts to prevent radiation-tainted groundwater from seeping into the sea are failing.
TEPCO has been trying to solidify the embankment of the crippled power plant.
TEPCO says water levels in one of the contaminated wells have risen by about 1 meter since the work began in early July.
It says this is likely the result of its work to solidify the ground [to a depth of 16 meters], using chemicals.
The company says soil up to 2 meters below the ground cannot be hardened, and water may be seeping out.
In addition, a top expert says that radioactive water could be flowing beneath the seafloor … and couldwell up outside of the port “containment” zone:
Atsunao Marui, head of the Groundwater Research Group at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, said, “Groundwater also flows beneath the seafloor, so it’s possible that contaminated groundwater could spring up outside the port.”
Marui added that water outside the port also needs to be carefully checked.
Reuters notes that the bolts in Fukushima’s tanks will corrode in just a few years, and a plant workers reveal — “Tepco says it doesn’t know how long tanks will hold”:
Experts say Tepco is attempting the most ambitious nuclear clean-up in history, even greater than the Chernobyl disaster ….
Radioactive water that cools the reactors …]mixes with some 400 tonnes of fresh groundwater pouring into the plant daily.
Workers have built more than 1,000 tanks ….
With more than 85 percent of the 380,000 tonnes of storage capacity filled, Tepco has said it could run out of space.
The tanks are built from parts of disassembled old containers brought from defunct factories and put together with new parts, workers from the plant told Reuters. They say steel bolts in the tanks will corrode in a few years.
Tepco says it does not know how long the tanks will hold.
[Tepco’s] appallingly shoddy handling of radioactive water that is leaking from the crippled plant into the sea.
At the No. 3 reactor, highly radioactive “mystery steam” has been spotted.
The fact that radioactive substances are still being released into the ground, the sea and the air is irrefutable proof that the nuclear disaster of March 2011 is not over. The responsible parties must take this situation gravely ….
The utility’s glaring ineptitude with crisis management was noted right from the start of the Fukushima disaster.
We have zero faith in the utility’s reliability as an operator of any nuclear power plant. In fact, allowing the company to handle nuclear energy is simply out of the question.
The entire company now needs to be focused on preventing radioactive substances from escaping into the environment.
Yomiuri argues that the government agency overseeing Fukushima has no idea what’s going on:
The Nuclear Regulation Authority, which oversees safety management at the nuclear plant, decided to set up a working team to analyze conditions concerning contamination.
But the NRA’s actions have also been badly delayed. At a meeting Monday, an expert said the NRA “still can’t grasp the risks posed by the current situation.”
As Enformable points out, top Japanese officials are finally calling for Tepco to be fired:
In case one hasn’t paid attention the constant stream of international experts who have called for TEPCO to be removed as the organization in charge of decommissioning the crippled Fukushima Daiichi reactors, Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority has also called for Tokyo Electric to be removed. “It is simply too big for one company to handle,” said Tanaka, at a press conference Wednesday. “Placing all the burden (of controlling the site) on them won’t solve the problem.”
Remember, an official Japanese government investigation concluded that the Fukushima accident was a“man-made” disaster, caused by “collusion” between government and Tepco and bad reactor design. And yet the Japanese government has allowed the culprit – Tepco – to oversee the “cleanup”, in the same way that the U.S. government allowed BP to oversee the “cleanup” of the Gulf oil spill even though BP’s criminal negligence caused the spill in the first place.
ABC Australia reports:
It’s taken about two-and-a-half years, but it seems the Japanese government is finally losing patience with the operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant. The reason: its haphazard approach to stabilising the complex. Last week it was unexplained steam rising from the shattered remains of the building housing the melted reactor number three. This week it’s TEPCO’s admission that radioactive water from the plant has probably been leaking into the Pacific for the last three months.
Indeed, Asahi notes:
The operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant sat on its hands for more than two years despite having pledged to seal a leaking hole in a turbine building ….
[Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide] Suga told reporters after the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday that the government views this as a grave matter.
Tepco’s own advisors are also blasting the operator of the stricken nuclear plant. AFP points out:
Foreign nuclear experts on Friday blasted the operator of Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, with one saying its lack of transparency over toxic water leaks showed “you don’t know what you’re doing”… “appears that you are not keeping the people of Japan informed. These actions indicate that you don’t know what you are doing …you do not have a plan and that you are not doing all you can to protect the environment and the people.” [said Dale Klein, Former NRC Chairman and Tepco advisory committee member]
Nuclear expert – and former high-level nuclear industry executive – Arnie Gundersen says that Fukushima has “contaminated the biggest body of water on the planet”, and that the whole Pacific Ocean likely to have cesium levels 5-10 times higher than at peak of nuclear bomb tests.
How could this happen? Doesn’t the ocean dilute radiation to the point it is rendered harmless? No, actually:
A previously-secret government report concluded in 1955 that the ocean may not adequately dilute radiation from nuclear accidents
Scientists say that radiation on the West Coast of North America could end up being 10 times higherthan in Japan
The amount of radioactive fuel at Fukushima dwarfs the amount at Chernobyl
Japan Times notes:
Fukushima … seems to lurch from one problem to the next ….
When the situation is so bad that Shunichi Tanaka, the NRA chairman, is stating in a press conference, with regard to water leaks, that “if you have any better ideas, we’d like to know,” it should be clear that Fukushima No. 1 still requires the upmost attention.
The chairman of the NRA also says (via the New York Times):
Considering the state of the plant, it’s difficult to find a solution today ortomorrow… That’s probably not satisfactory to many of you. But that’s the reality we face after an accident like this… We don’t truly know whether that will work….
Indeed, technology doesn’t currently even exist to stabilize and clean up Fukushima, and Tepco – with no financial incentive to actually fix things – has only been pretending to clean it up. And see this.
Top Nuclear Experts: Technology Doesn’t Yet Exist to Clean Up Fukushima
Containing Fukushima Is Beyond Current Technology
World-renowned physicist Michio Kaku said recently:
It will take years to invent a new generation of robots able to withstand the radiation.
(The radiation inside the reactors is too hot even for robots.)
Hiroshi Tasaka, a nuclear engineer and professor at Tama University who advised the prime minister after the disaster … said the government target of removing all the rods by the end of next year may prove too optimistic because of many unknowns, the need to develop new technology and the risk of aftershocks.
Concerning the extraction of fuel debris [at Fukushima], which is considered the most challenging process, “There is no technology which may be directly applied,” said [top EnergySolutions executive] Morant.
A top American government nuclear expert – William D. Magwood – told the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works:
It is very difficult to overstate how difficult the work is going to be at that site. There will need to be new technologies and new methodologies created to be able to enable them to clean the site up and some of these technologies don’t exist yet, so there’s a long way to go with that …. There’s a long, long way to go.
(Magwood is a Commissioner for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, former 7-year Director of Nuclear Energy with the U.S. Department of Energy , where he was the senior nuclear technology official in the U.S. government and the senior nuclear technology policy adviser to the Secretary of Energy, and the longest-serving head of the United States’ civilian nuclear technology program, serving two Presidents and five Secretaries of Energy from 1998 until 2005.)
And Greenpeace notes that even storing the waste removed from Fukushima is a challenge:
A group of scientists from the Science Council of Japan (SCJ) are advising the government via the Japan Atomic Energy Company (JAEC) to completely overhaul its nuclear waste disposal plan. Currently, the government plans to bury spent nuclear fuel 300 meters below ground, where it will need to stay for tens of thousands of years until it is no longer radioactive.
The SCJ group said that because Japan is so prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity, there’s no guarantee of safety for future generations.
Instead, the researchers recommend storing the waste in “temporary safe storage” facilities, either above ground or underground, for up to a few hundred years—and in the meantime, actively working to develop new technology to ensure safe burial of the highly radioactive material. That technology does not exist at this point. “Based on current scientific knowledge, we cannot determine a geological formation that would be stable for hundreds of thousands of years …. But discussions on where the spent fuel should ultimately be stored have not even begun.
Postscript: We don’t mean to imply that the situation is hopeless. Indeed, we are big believers in the ability of humans to come up with ingenuous solutions … when we put our minds to it.
For example, Sandia National Laboratories has engineered a special “molecular sieve” which can more efficiently remove radiation from wastewater.
And one of the world’s leading authorities on fungi and bioremediation says that certain types of mushrooms can naturally reduce radiation.
Engineers are also furiously working on developing robots which can withstand higher levels of radiation.
But before we can tame this monster, we have to admit that Fukushima is one of the top short-term threats to humanity and deploy the resources necessary to develop the required technologies.
DEATH HAS COME TO THE WORLD, AND NO ONE CAN ESCAPE IT! “The governments are gathering together, and betting upon the power of the press, to bombard people into believing in falsehood – and that is the number one government agenda next to genocide.”… "enough radiation will leak from the Fukushima Plants, to poison two thirds (2/3) of the population of
the Americas… For some it will be
slow. But others – especially the elderly and infants, will die very