“Grave concern” over chance of reactor meltdown
Paul Joseph Watson
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Despite the fact that it long since disappeared from major news headlines, an editorial in one of Japan’s leading newspapers warns that the Fukushima crisis is still at a critical stage and that the Japanese government has drawn up contingency plans for the potential evacuation of Greater Tokyo’s 39 million residents.
Fukushima’s reactor number 4, which holds 75% as much nuclear fuel as the entire Chernobyl complex did prior to its meltdown, 460 tons in total, is at risk of collapse. With the roof of the complex blown away, if the storage pool for the spent fuel, which is housed on the 3rd and 4th floors of the building, were to fracture then the nuclear fuel would overheat and explode, spreading radioactive fallout over a wide area.
Both the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and French nuclear energy company Areva have warned that reactor number 4 is the “weakest link” out of the entire Fukushima complex. The Tokyo Electric Power Company has resisted calls to bury the spent fuel rods in concrete, citing the cost, but an editorial in Japan’s Mainichi Daily News quotes government insiders who warn that the potential collapse of the reactor is “a grave concern.”
“Because sea water was being pumped into the reactor, the soundness of the structure (concrete corrosion and deterioration) was questionable. There also were doubts about the calculations made on earthquake resistance as well,” said one government source familiar with what took place at the time. “It’s been suggested that the building would be reinforced, and spent fuel rods would be removed from the pool under those conditions. But fuel rod removal will take three years. Will the structure remain standing for that long?”
As part of contingency planning for the collapse of reactor number 4, the Japanese government has drawn up a blueprint for forcibly evacuating 39 million residents out of the Tokyo metropolitan area.
“The worse-case scenario drawn up by the government includes not only the collapse of the No. 4 reactor pool, but the disintegration of spent fuel rods from all the plant’s other reactors. If this were to happen, residents in the Tokyo metropolitan area would be forced to evacuate,” according to the editorial by senior writer Takao Yamada.
The radiation exposure Tokyo residents are already receiving as a result of the disaster are certain to cause devastating health effects for decades to come.
Research has shown that some areas of Tokyo have more radiation than existed in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zones. Indeed, recent soil samples taken in Tokyo were found to be so radioactive that they would be considered radioactive waste in the United States and would have to be disposed of by experts at a secure facility.
Last week TEPCO announced that, “it has found that the cooling water in one of the damaged reactors (number 2) at Fukushima is only 60 centimeters deep, far lower than previously thought.” Radioactive material from the stricken nuclear plant has been found in sea creatures and ocean water some 600 km off the coast of Japan.
“There was a chance early on that a storage pool collapse could be prevented, but according to the report Tokyo Electric Power Co. refused to take the necessary steps as a cost-cutting measure,” writes Mac Slavo.
“If storage pools in the No. 4 reactor collapse and disintegrate as the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has warned could happen, we will see a humanitarian crisis of unprecedented scale as millions of refugees will have no choice but to flee Tokyo. They’ll have no possessions, no money, no food, no water, no shelter, and a very fragile safety net.”
As we highlighted last week, while residents in Fukushima and surrounding areas continue to express justified concern over radiation poisoning, almost a quarter of them are instead being treated for “psychiatric disorders,” with fear of contamination being characterized by health authorities as a mental illness.