Why Fukushima Is a Greater Disaster than Chernobyl and a Warning Sign for the U.S., by Robert Alvarez, Institute For Policy Studies, April 20, 2012
“The radioactive inventory of all the irradiated nuclear fuel stored in spent fuel pools at Fukushima is far greater and even more problematic than the molten cores.
“…After visiting the site recently, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) wrote to Japan’s ambassador to the U.S. stating that, ‘loss of containment in any of these pools could result in an even greater release than the initial accident.’
- This is why: Each pool contains irradiated fuel from several years of operation, making for an extremely large radioactive inventory without a strong containment structure that encloses the reactor cores;
- Several pools are now completely open to the atmosphere because the reactor buildings were demolished by explosions; they are about 100 feet above ground and could possibly topple or collapse from structural damage coupled with another powerful earthquake;
- The loss of water exposing the spent fuel will result in overheating can cause melting and ignite its zirconium metal cladding – resulting in a fire that could deposit large amounts of radioactive materials over hundreds of miles.
Irradiated nuclear fuel, also called ‘spent fuel,’ is extraordinarily radioactive. In a matter of seconds, an unprotected human one foot away from a single freshly removed spent fuel assembly would receive a lethal dose of radiation within seconds. As one of the most dangerous materials in the world, spent reactor fuel poses significant long-term risks, requiring isolation in a geological disposal site that can protect the human environment for tens of thousands of years.”
“…The overall problem we face is that nearly all of the spent fuel at the Dai-Ichi site is in vulnerable pools in a high risk/consequence earthquake zone. The urgency of the situation is underscored by the ongoing seismic activity around NE Japan in which 13 earthquakes of magnitude 4.0 – 5.7 have occurred off the NE coast of Honshu in the last 4 days between 4/14 and 4/17.”
“…The stark reality, if TEPCO’s plan is realized, is that nearly all of the spent fuel at the Da-Ichi containing some of the largest concentrations of radioactivity on the planet will remain indefinitely in vulnerable pools. TEPCO wants to store the spent fuel from the damaged reactors in the common pool, and only to resort to dry, cask storage when the common pool’s capacity is exceeded.”
Concerns Mount Over Spent Fuel Growing Threat, posted by dun renard, fukushima311watchdogs.org, May 8, 2012, originally by Vladimir Slivyak,Bellona, May 6, 2012
“Stabilizing the vast stockpile of spent nuclear fuel that remains at the site is an issue of critical urgency, says a joint petition that nuclear experts, politicians, and environmentalists from 72 Japanese ecological groups addressed on May 1 to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, requesting that the UN lend its weight in organizing and coordinating an immediate international response to address the risk.”
“…Robert Alvarez, who is a leading American nuclear safety expert and a former senior policy adviser to the US Energy Department’s secretary, believes the nuclear waste in the cooling pond at Unit 4 contains ten times the amount of radioactive cesium that was blown into the atmosphere when Reactor 4 exploded at Ukraine’s Chernobyl in 1986 – making an accident involving this spent fuel pool potentially nearly ten times as devastating as the Chernobyl disaster.”
“Altogether, ‘nearly all of the 10,893 spent fuel assemblies at the Fukushima Daiichi plant sit in pools vulnerable to future earthquakes, with roughly 85 times more long-lived radioactivity than released at Chernobyl,’ the petition says.”
Nuclear Engineer Arnie Gundersen: Fukushima Meltdown Could Result in 1 Million Cases of Cancer
Democracy Now interview with Arnie Gundersen, March 12, 2012
At 57:23, speaking of the Mark I nuclear plant design, [of which Fukushima was one], Gundersen says, “…the fuel is stored on the roof in unshielded unprotected areas…” “…There is more nuclear Cesium 137 [half life of 30 years] in the fuel pool of the plant in Pilgrim, Massachusetts [Mark I design] than was ever released from every nuclear bomb ever exploded in the atmosphere.”
Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), appeared on MSNBC’s The Daily Rundown to discuss a recent onsite tour of what remains of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facilities decimated by last year’s earthquake and subsequent tsunami.
Wyden, a senior member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, sent a letter to Japanese Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki looking for ways to advance and support clean-up and recovery efforts. Wyden’s principal concern is the relocation of spent fuel rods currently being stored in unsound structures immediately adjacent to the ocean. He strongly urged the Ambassador to accept international help to prevent dangerous nuclear material from being released into the environment.
Fukushima…radiation so high – even robots not safe , Thom Hartmann on RT.com, April 1, 2012
Fukushima – Could it Have a China Syndrome?, Arnie Gundersen, Fairwinds.org, [Older video, 12/14/2011, but the water problem is still happening.]
Arnie Gundersen explains how far melted fuel would probably go (probably not cause a steam explosion) but how contaminated cooling water is leaking into ground water and into the Pacific ocean, water which includes uranium and plutonium that last 10,000’s of years.