The blog of Xeno, a slightly mad scientist
Despite the fact that it long since disappeared from major news headlines, an editorial in one of Japan’s leading newspapers warns that the Fukushima crisis is still at a critical stage and that the Japanese government has drawn up contingency plans for the potential evacuation of Greater Tokyo’s 39 million residents.
Fukushima’s reactor number 4, which holds 75% as much nuclear fuel as the entire Chernobyl complex did prior to its meltdown, 460 tons in total, is at risk of collapse. With the roof of the complex blown away, if the storage pool for the spent fuel, which is housed on the 3rd and 4th floors of the building, were to fracture then the nuclear fuel would overheat and explode, spreading radioactive fallout over a wide area.
Both the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and French nuclear energy company Areva have warned that reactor number 4 is the “weakest link” out of the entire Fukushima complex. The Tokyo Electric Power Company has resisted calls to bury the spent fuel rods in concrete, citing the cost, but an editorial in Japan’s Mainichi Daily News quotes government insiders who warn that the potential collapse of the reactor is “a grave concern.”
“Because sea water was being pumped into the reactor, the soundness of the structure (concrete corrosion and deterioration) was questionable. There also were doubts about the calculations made on earthquake resistance as well,” said one government source familiar with what took place at the time. “It’s been suggested that the building would be reinforced, and spent fuel rods would be removed from the pool under those conditions. But fuel rod removal will take three years. Will the structure remain standing for that long?”
As part of contingency planning for the collapse of reactor number 4, the Japanese government has drawn up a blueprint for forcibly evacuating 39 million residents out of the Tokyo metropolitan area.
“The worse-case scenario drawn up by the government includes not only the collapse of the No. 4 reactor pool, but the disintegration of spent fuel rods from all the plant’s other reactors. If this were to happen, residents in the Tokyo metropolitan area would be forced to evacuate,” according to the editorial by senior writer Takao Yamada.
The radiation exposure Tokyo residents are already receiving as a result of the disaster are certain to cause devastating health effects for decades to come…
– prison planet.