Fukushima Update - 10/23/13

Since the earthquake and tsunami that took over 15,000 lives in Japan and crippled the Fukushima Nuclear Power plant on March 11, 2011, the public's appetite for this news has dwindled. Yet the situation at Fukushima Nuclear Power plant continues to be extremely dangerous. Complicating the decommissioning and clean-up efforts is a new problem. Ground water flows were upset by the earthquake. So now this freshwater is flowing into the power plant site and mixing with the existing radioactivity in the soil. Each week enough water flows in to fill an Olympic size swimming pool.

Much of the effort is now directed towards solving this problem, with plans to build enormous walls and ice barriers to prevent the water from reaching the ocean.

But the most serious problem remains. The Unit 4 reactor is badly damaged. Standing 100 feet off the ground, it holds 400,000 tons of highly radiactive waste water, along with some 1500 rods. These rods are the most toxic thing on our planet. The Unit 4 pool has already sank some 30 inches into the earth and is said to be titling to one side.

While the leaking radioactivity into the ocean has received much of the news' attention, the situation at Unit 4 is much more serious. It is not clear that this pool, standing 100 feet off the ground could withstand even a mild earthquake or a strong storm. Typhoons have recently hit Japan, just south of Tokyo. What would happen if a typhoon hit Fukushima? No one knows. Should the pool topple, crack or fall over, the rods would touch setting off an uncontrolled chain reaction leading to a meltdown. Such an event would be an environmental catastrophe the likes of which we have never seen, sending a highly radioactive cloud over the entire earth.

This unit 4 needs to be decommissioned. To do so safely without allowing the rods to touch is an extremely complicated and delicate operation. The operators of the plant, TEPCO, have not inspired much confidence that they have the resources or the skill to do this operation safely.

The United States has already decommissioned four nuclear power plants. So we have technical skills and resources that could be used to help TEPCO decommission the unit 4 reactor.

It is not clear yet, that the Japanese government or TEPCO is receptive to outside help. So I ask you to please sign the following petition requesting the United Nations and President Barak Obama to make this situation the highest priority and to bring together the world's resources to decommission this reactor safely.

Here is the petition statement:

β€œAt Fukushima Unit-4, the impending removal of hugely radioactive spent fuel rods from a pool 100 feet in the air presents unparalleled scientific and engineering challenges. With the potential for 15,000 times more fallout than was released at Hiroshima, we ask the world community, through the United Nations, to take control of this uniquely perilous task.”

Please consider signing this petition.

Click here to add your name to the petition. (http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/the-world-community-must?source=s.fwd&r_by=1391209)

To learn more about Fukushima, please watch this video made by long time nuclear activist, Harvey Wasserman: http://youtu.be/NucjTiOXxSQ

There is also a recent article in the Washington Post here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/for-tepco-and-japans-fukushima-daiichi-nuclear-plant-toxic-water-stymies-cleanup/2013/10/21/406f4d78-2cba-11e3-b141-298f46539716_story.html

Nation of Change also has an excellent article on the situation at: http://www.nationofchange.org/fukushima-disaster-reaches-epic-proportions-1380203534

I know this is difficult to absorb and read about. I know you are busy and probably stressed out already. But please, pay attention to this news. It's important for you, your children and your world.

by Robert Joshin Althouse