Fukushima Daiichi requires a Manhattan Project approach to avoid another nuclear accident
By Robert X. Cringely
May 25, 2012
This is my sixth column about the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident [...] this one looks forward to the next Japanese nuclear accident, which will probably take place at the same location.
That accident, involving nuclear fuel rods, is virtually inevitable, most likely preventable, and the fact that it won’t be prevented comes down solely to Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) incompetence and stupidity.
Understand that I have some cred in this space having worked three decades ago as an investigator for the Presidential Commission on the Accident at Three Mile Island and later wrote a book about that accident. I also ran for 20 years a technology consulting business in Japan.
Fukushima has always been a seismically active area. Called the Japan Trench Subduction Zone, it has experienced nine seismic events of magnitude 7 or greater since 1973.
An earthquake of 7.0 or greater is likely to disrupt cooling water flow and further damage fuel storage pools possibly making them leak. If this happens the fuel rods will be exposed, will get hotter and eventually melt
The probability of a large earthquake in the 10+ years required to completely defuel the plant is virtually 100 percent. If a big earthquake happens before that fuel is gone there will be global environmental catastrophe with many deaths.
Fukushima Daiichi requires a Manhattan Project approach. The sole role of the Japanese government should be to pay for the job.
Robert X. Cringely has worked in and around the PC business for more than 30 years. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Newsweek, Forbes, Upside, Success, Worth, and many other magazines and newspapers. Most recently, Cringely was the host and writer of the Maryland Public Television documentary “The Tranformation Age: Surviving a Technology Revolution with Robert X. Cringely”.
Published: May 25th, 2012 at 4:30 pm ET
- WSJ: Very dangerous situation at Fukushima Daiichi says Senator — Taking years to remove fuel “carries extraordinary and continuing risk” — No comment from Tepco, Japan gov’t — Quake could send buildings tumbling down, resulting in “an even greater release of radiation” April 17, 2012
- Accident in Reactor 3 fuel pool at Fukushima — Large piece of wreckage falls nearby spent uranium rods — M5 quake hits plant soon after — Official: “Unable to say” whether any are damaged (PHOTOS & VIDEO) August 29, 2014
- Fukushima rocked by strongest quakes to hit country this month; Epicenter just offshore from reactors; Nuke plant cam shows shaking for over a minute — Top Japan Newspaper: ‘Major quake disasters could strike anywhere in nation’… Great increases in probability; Measures urgently needed (VIDEO) December 27, 2014
- Gundersen: Nuclear fuel has been moved by groundwater at Fukushima Daiichi — It’s time to walk away from plant for next 100 years once there’s an underground sarcophagus — Much more difficult to contain than Chernobyl (VIDEO) December 29, 2013
- Japan Engineer: Radiation doses at Fukushima Daiichi to increase dramatically in several years – “But no one talks about that” (VIDEO) September 30, 2012