New Worries at Fukushima
May 3, 2012
By Richard Schiffman
The story of Japan’s natural/nuclear disaster has faded from the headlines, but it is still relevant in the state of Alabama [...]
[...] nuclear experts say their biggest concern involves Reactor 4 which sustained severe structural damage [...]
A report released in February by the Independent Investigation Commission on the nuclear accident called this pool “the weakest link” at Fukushima. Robert Alvarez, former Senior Policy Adviser to the Secretary and Deputy Assistant Secretary for National Security and the Environment at the U.S. Department of Energy warns that, “If an earthquake or other event were to cause this pool to drain it could result in a catastrophic radiological fire involving nearly 10 times the amount of Cs-137 released by the Chernobyl accident.”
How likely is this? While the structure of Reactor 4 is stable for the moment, the Dai-ichi plant lies miles from a big earthquake fault– as large as the one that caused last year’s quake, but much closer to Fukushima. According to a study published in February in the European Geosciences Union´s journal Solid Earth, that fault is now overdue for a quake.
Whether or not the critical pool at Reactor 4 would survive another major quake intact, Edwin Lyman a physicist with the Union of Concerned Scientists warns that a failure of the jury-rigged inadequate piping installed after the disaster could put the cooling system out of commission.
These dangers have led two former Japanese diplomats on a crusade to avert what they see as a disaster waiting to happen. UN veteran Akio Matsumura and former Japanese ambassador to Switzerland Mitsuhei Murata attended the Nuclear Security Summit Conference in Seoul Korea at the end of March “to inform the participants from 54 nations of the potential global catastrophe of reactor unit 4.” They called on the international community to set up an independent assessment team of structural engineers and nuclear scientists to study conditions at Reactor 4 and recommend a course of action. [...]
It appears the reporter interviewed Lyman, as he later writes of Lyman, “He told me that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has failed to fully implement the recommendations of its own post-Fukushima task force.”
Read more here
Published: May 3rd, 2012 at 1:11 pm ET