Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Greatest Singular Threat We Face Today is The Spent Fuel Pool at Fukushima Daiichi

It was only yesterday that I was explaining to my mother, that the greatest global threat facing us today, is not the posturing of America/Israel/Iran and any subsequent fallout which might occur from that testament to mankind's inanity. But rather our biggest threat is the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear installation; more specifically, the spent fuel pool above the number 4 reactor.

The result of this little chat with Ma'ma, was to remind me that it was time once again to check the latest offerings from Fairewinds Energy Education, formally Fairewinds Associates. Lo and behold, purely by coincidence, as does happen on occasion, Arnie Gundersen discusses the very thing in this thirty five minute presentation.

Fortunately, for those of you with limited bandwidth, Gundersen addresses the problem right from the off. And in doing so must be said, saves me having to elaborate further on this very real threat facing, not just ourselves as a species, but Mother Earth herself.

Up first then, is Gundersen's opening statement, the full transcript being available at the link. You might also find of interest, this previous post: Tokyo Soil Samples Would Be Considered Nuclear Waste In The US This and others available under the Japan tag.

Fukushima Daiichi: The Truth and the Future


Arnie Gundersen: Unit 4 has always been my biggest concern. If you watched our website on the very first week of the accident I was saying that if Unit 4 were to catch fire, you would have to evacuate Tokyo. As a matter of fact the book that we wrote talks about that a lot. It is really important and it remains the biggest concern that I have about the Fukushima site. Unit 4 has more fuel in it than any of the other units in the complex, but more importantly it has the most recently used nuclear fuel. And all of that fuel is outside of the containment. So that would make it dangerous enough. Except that also, of course, Unit 4 has had a series of explosions and is weakened structurally. Before it might have withstood a 7.5 earthquake. I believe that the structural damage to Unit 4 is so great that if there is a 7.5 earthquake, it will not withstand it.

Here is what would happen if Unit 4 were to crack and the water were to drain out of the nuclear fuel pool. The fuel is hot enough that it needs to be water-cooled. If air is all there is cooling the fuel, it will burn. It will burn the zircaloy cladding on the fuel, (and) will react with the oxygen to create a fire. And it is a fire that once it starts, cannot be put out by water. Water would make it worse. So the nuclear fuel would have to burn completely before the fire would ever go out.

In the process, all that radiation would go up into the atmosphere and blow all over Japan and all over the world.

There is as much cesium in the fuel pool at Unit 4 as there was in all of the atomic bombs dropped in all of the tests in the 1940's, the 1950's, the 1960's, and into the 1970's. All of the above ground testing has less cesium in it than is in the reactor pool at Fukushima 4 right now.
So it is a grave situation. I don't believe that the Japanese Government is moving fast enough. If there is no earthquake, the plan to remove the fuel slowly is going to be adequate. But we cannot wait on Mother Nature. We have to quickly move that fuel out of that pool and onto the ground. The key here is quickly. The Japanese Government finally just this month came up with a plan to build a building around the fuel pool building and begin removing the fuel in 2013 or 2014.

I said that that is what they needed to do on the Fairewinds site in an interview with Chris Martenson a year ago. These things have been evident, but TEPCO is not moving fast enough and the Japanese Government is not pushing TEPCO to move fast enough either. I think the top priority of TEPCO and the top priority of the Japanese Government should be to move the fuel out of that pool just as quickly as possible. And in the meantime, they need to strengthen that pool to make sure that it can withstand an earthquake. Remember, that pool is not in a containment. You can look down in a satellite and see the nuclear fuel. The roof is blown off. And that is what makes it dangerous.

In America, we had the Brookhaven National Laboratory do a study to examine what would happen in a fuel pool fire. Brookhaven National Labs determined that there would be 187,000 people who would develop cancer from a fuel pool fire. It is a serious concern and I do not believe that Tokyo Electric and I do not believe that the Japanese Government is taking it seriously enough. For the last year I have been working with Akio Matsumora and finally it appears that the world community is listening to Akio Matsumora's concerns about the pool. We need to tackle this as a concerned world community and encourage the Japanese Government and encourage Tokyo Electric to solve it quickly. More transcript.

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