Fukushima develops into Global Catastrophe
Christof Lehmann (nsnbc) , – A global catastrophe, 85 times worse than Chernobyl, 15000 times worse than Hiroshima could develop at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan at any moment. Experts warn that the situation in Fukushima has deteriorated to such a degree that it is beyond the control of the power plants operator TECPCO or the Japanese government, calling for a global response to prevent the looming catastrophe.
Highly radioactive contaminated water, stored in makeshift, leaking storage tanks throughout the power plants area; severely damaged structures which could collapse at any moment, holding spent fuel rods which, if they become exposed to open air, will release 85 times the amount of deadly cesium than the cesium that was released during the Chernobyl disaster.
But this is only the tip of the iceberg.
The foundations of the crumbling buildings are sinking. The need to douse the open-air meltdown and the spent fuel rods with water has turned the ground into a semi liquid puddle, causing the crippled ruin that holds the fuel rods to tilt like the leaning tower of Pisa.
Japan is located in one of the geologically most active regions of the world. Even a minor earthquake could, at any moment, cause a global catastrophe. A relatively small earthquake hit Fukushima on 19 September, causing a global scare and leaks in some of the storage tanks. Bigger ones will follow.
The operator of the crippled nuclear power plant, TEPCO, may make a desperate attempt to remove the spent fuel rods from the water tank in the crumbling, leaning and sinking building. at Unit 4. TEPCO said, that it may begin to remove the more than 1300 spent fuel rods from the pool in the severely damaged building within 60 days.
Because the heavy pool in which the spent fuel rods are submerged is situated at the top of the crumbling, leaning and sinking building at Unit 4, it could, or rather it will cause the building to fall over. It is merely a question of time – and experts agree that Fukushima is running out of time.
Hiroshima radiation a minor incident in comparison to Fukushima potential.
The radiation that was released by the explosion of the US American nuclear bomb which was detonated over Hiroshima in 1945 is, by comparison with the potential radiation release of Fukushima, to be considered a minor incident.
The 400 tons of spent fuel rods would release 15.000 times the amount of deadly radiation than the radiation that was released in Hiroshima.
Experts warn, that the Fukushima operator, TEPCO, neither has the scientific nor the engineering expertise that is required to salvage the fuel rods from the sinking, crippled and tilting building. Making matters even worse, is the fact that neither TEPCO nor the Japanese government has the economic resources which are required for the job. The lack of finances to pay for preventing a global catastrophe leads to discussions about technicalities.
Besides the problem with salvaging the fuel rods, there is the problem with thousands of tons of highly radioactive water, which is stored in leaking storage tanks. Shortly after the 2011 earthquake which caused the disaster, the TEPCO operators decided to use flange tanks with rubber seals instead of using welded tanks.
The decision was made because of time pressure. Considering the emergency, the flange tanks could be produced faster than welded tanks. No one has ever since ordered welded tanks. TEPCO continues ordering more flange tanks which are extremely vulnerable to earthquakes.
The tanks are leaking at the seams. The rubber seals are unfit for the job, especially considering the high salinity of the air because of the tanks proximity to the Pacific Ocean and the corrosion of the metal at the leaking seams.
Some 300 tons of highly contaminated water are pouring into the pacific per day. The total amount of water that is flowing through the ground each day is estimated at 800 to 1000 tons. Besides that, some 400 tons of contaminated water seep into the damaged reactor buildings per day.
It is a matter of fact that nobody exactly knows where the power plants melting cores are at. The only way to cool, what some experts called an open air reactor in meltdown mode, is to douse as much water on the building as possible in the hope that some of it will reach the reactor cores – somewhere – somehow – without bringing the tilting building to fall.
Magical Thinking versus International Response.
Culturally conditioned notions about honor, guilt and responsibility, and an inherently chauvinist Japanese societal understanding of normality, norms and normativeness, make it difficult, to say the least, both Japanese stakeholders to ask for help from one another, let alone asking the international community for help. It is an equally sensitive matter for the international community to approach TEPCO or the Japanese government. Everything can and will be politicized and neither Fukushima nor the world have time for that any longer.
The Fukushima Operator and the Japanese government however, seem to continue their “magical thinking” approach to what could, at any moment, develop into a global catastrophe. The most apparent magical thinking processes are:
- Unfit storage tanks become more solid and earthquake resistant because one continues ordering more of them.
- Cooling water will reach the melting reactor cores because one hopes that it will reach them, especially given the fact that one pours sufficient amounts on the buildings.
- The hundreds of tons of water which permeate the earth around the crippled, collapsing building, which contains the pool with the spent fuel rods, will not cause the ground to turn into a puddle of mud and will not cause the building to even tilt more and to collapse.
- We, TEPCO and the Japanese government are capable of managing the crisis alone, and remove the spent fuel rods without asking for international help, because if we continue to misunderstand traditional Japanese values of honor, if we continue believing that we have the scientific and engineering expertise that is required, and if we continue to believe that we have enough money, we will maintain our honor, acquire more scientific and engineering expertise than the rest of the world has combined, and with regards to the money, we can always print more of it.
Japan is a sovereign nation and nobody can force the Japanese government to ask for urgently needed, international help. With an international response being urgently needed, the only legitimate way of approaching the problem which, at any moment could turn into a global catastrophe, would be for the Secretary General of the United Nations to offer the Japanese government to arrange an international emergency conference in Tokyo, to organize an international response. With a little bit of wisdom and understanding of Japanese culture, it would be easy to make an offer the Japanese government cannot refuse.