Voice of America, Oct. 15, 2013: [Mitsuhei Murata, Japan’s former ambassador to Switzerland] said a series of incidents over the past 30 months – including radioactive water leaks – have called into question TEPCO’s ability to carry out this critical operation. “The Unit 4 contains 10 times more Cesium-137 than Chernobyl. So in case the worst occurs, a total withdrawal [from the site] will be imposed, which means this can be considered as the beginning of the ultimate catastrophe of the world and the planet,” said Murata [...] “The two-and-a-half years of struggling by the state and by TEPCO have proven that nuclear accidents cannot be coped with by electric companies or by a single state.”
Channel 4 News (UK), Oct. 16, 2013: Fukushima: why next month is its biggest since 2011 [...] The World Nuclear Report in 2013 said the operation had the potential to cause “by far the most serious radiological disaster to date” if it goes wrong. It warns of the possibility of apocalyptic scenarios including the evacuation of 10 million people in the surrounding area, including Tokyo. [...] 400 tonnes of irradiated spent fuel from reactor 4 [...] which needs to be removed from the now highly unstable structure in case of any kind of earthquake [...] so many risks and unknowns, including whether the fuel assemblies have been damaged, which could lead to the radiation risks if the casings have been breached. The worst case scenario is if the fuel assemblies are dropped, which could ultimately lead to a partial meltdown – but that is not thought to be likely. [...] Professor Neil Hyatt, a nuclear expert at Sheffield University, told Channel 4 News reports have been “very clear on the worst that can happen”, adding: “Is that feasible? Yes. Is it realistic? That’s hard to say. This is probably a world first in terms of the engineering challenge.” [...]
Tepco Spokeswoman: “The removal of the fuels is an experienced technology used everywhere over the world. The risks are evaluated and well under control.”
Professor Hiroaki Koide, Kyoto University Reactor Research Institute, Welcome to Fukushima (2013): In the fuel pool of Reactor No. 4 there is still 4,000 times the amount of fuel in Hiroshima. Even now there are still aftershocks at Fukushima. If there is a big shock and the pool is destroyed, there will be 10 times more contamination in the atmosphere than now.
Published: October 17th, 2013 at 2:13 pm ET