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Senator Wyden: Fukushima Worse Than Reported

The Fourth Reactor at Fukushima on February 20, 2012. The yellow area is the containment vessel. (photo: The Asahi Shimbum Digital)

by Roberta Rampton, Reuters - - April 17, 2012

Japan, with assistance from the U.S. government, needs to do more to move spent fuel rods out of harm's way at the tsunami-stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, said U.S. Senator Ron Wyden on Monday.

Wyden, a senior Democratic senator on the Senate Energy committee, toured the ruined Fukushima plant on April 6, and said the damage was far worse than he expected.

"Seeing the extent of the disaster first-hand during my visit conveyed the magnitude of this tragedy and the continuing risks and challenges in a way that news accounts cannot," said Wyden in a letter to Ichiro Fujisaki, Japan's ambassador to the United States.

Last March, an earthquake followed by a tsunami wrecked the Fukushima plant, causing the world's worst nuclear accident in 25 years and prompting global scrutiny of the safety of nuclear power plants.

Wyden said he was most worried about spent fuel rods stored in damaged pools adjacent to the ocean, and urged the Japanese government to accept international help to prevent further release of the radioactive material if another earthquake should happen.

In a statement on his website, Wyden said the only protection for the pools from another tsunami appeared to be "a small, makeshift sea wall erected out of bags of rock."

Wyden said the spent fuel should be moved to safer storage sooner than anticipated under a 10-year clean-up plan from TEPCO, the owner of the nuclear plant.

The lawmaker also wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and top U.S. nuclear regulator Gregory Jaczko to ask them to find ways to help Japan address the problem.

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by bincbom - - April 16, 2012

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster is the catastrophe that everyone wishes would just go away.  After all, it's out of the headlines, so surely it's not such a big deal a whole year later, right?

Wrong.  The Unit #4 spent fuel pool (SFP) at Fukushima is in grave danger of collapsing.  This SFP is a matter of a few feet from the ocean.  Only a modest earthquake would be needed for the structure to collapse, and if this should happen a much larger explosion and fire, and a radiological release far more vast than any that has occurred so far is almost certain.

Many people, including experts like Arnold Gunderson, Chairman Jaczko, and interested observers such as myself have been very worried about this very possibility for much of the past year.  Now, according to Reuters, Senator Wyden of Oregon has declared that the situation at Fukushima is "far worse than he expected".  Thus, he's raised the alarm at the diplomatic level in hopes that the world can collectively preempt even more devastating planetary radioactive contamination than has already occurred.  He is making a push for the nations of the world to collaborate on this problem, Manhattan project style, to secure the nuclear material in SFP #4 at Fukushima before it's too late.  

This is an important problem because this SFP that's in jeopardy holds the equivalent of thousands of bombs worth of nuclear material.  If SFP #4 goes bad, we're talking some very serious nuclear fallout worldwide. - April 3, 2012

Japan’s former Ambassador to Switzerland, Mr. Mitsuhei Murata, was invited to speak at the Public Hearing of the Budgetary Committee of the House of Councilors on March 22, 2012, on the Fukushima nuclear power plants accident. Before the Committee, Ambassador Murata strongly stated that if the crippled building of reactor unit 4—with 1,535 fuel rods in the spent fuel pool 100 feet (30 meters) above the ground—collapses, not only will it cause a shutdown of all six reactors but will also affect the common spent fuel pool containing 6,375 fuel rods, located some 50 meters from reactor 4. In both cases the radioactive rods are not protected by a containment vessel; dangerously, they are open to the air. This would certainly cause a global catastrophe like we have never before experienced. He stressed that the responsibility of Japan to the rest of the world is immeasurable. Such a catastrophe would affect us all for centuries. Ambassador Murata informed us that the total numbers of the spent fuel rods at the Fukushima Daiichi site excluding the rods in the pressure vessel is 11,421 (396+615+566+1,535+994+940+6375).

I asked top spent-fuel pools expert Mr. 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, for an explanation of the potential impact of the 11,421 rods.

I received an astounding response from Mr. Alvarez.


howdy folks