Over the last two years, the global news has been dappled with updates from the Fukushima Nuclear plant in Japan, showing the situation is under control. Even more so in the last few months, since Tokyo won the 2020 Olympic bid.
But what we haven't been told is that in August 2012, the TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) asked the international community to help them contain the leaks at the Fukushima Nuclear Plant.
It was the first time they had asked for help in the fight.
In March 2011, the 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan killed thousands of people and permanently damaged the several reactors at Fukushima Nuclear Plant. The reactors' cooling systems were disabled, and radioactivity was accidently released.
An interview between a Russian News site and Robert Jacobs, and Associate Professor at Hiroshima Peace University and historian in social and cultural aspects of nuclear technology, revealed this call for help means the problem is catastrophic.
Professor Jacobs explained that because Japan has over 50 nuclear plants, they have a lot of expertise and experience in this field and so to call for help must mean the situation is disastrous. Professor Jacobs believes that although various countries such as the UK, Russia and the USA have experience with older nuclear plants (and accidents that have released radioactivity), asking for their help is pointless. Quoting from the interview he said: "Given that nobody really knows how to solve the problems at Fukushima, there is nobody who has solutions to this. The problems at Fukushima are unprecedented, so even by bringing in outside expertise, all that they can do is try to problem solve. There is no solution that other countries have that they can come in and fix the reactors, or rather shut down the contamination and shut down the leaks."
Professor Jacobs explained that there are over a thousand tanks filled with highly contaminated radioactive water. More water is being poured into the reactors every day in order to keep the melting cores cool. Water saturating the ground is incredibly high. "And then you have over 1000 tanks and more tanks being built every few days to store thousands of tons of water - this is all on ground saturated with water." Professor Jacobs says, "So how they are going to be able keep that water in place without these tanks all leaking is anybody's guess. How they are going to be able to find where, underneath these reactors, the nuclear fuel is and limit and contain them so that they stop leaching radiation into the environment is likely to take decades even with all expertise in the world. "
Even the experience from Russia, who have had to deal with the Chernobyl disaster, is not enough, as Robert Jacobs believes their expertise is in evacuating a large area around the contamination zone and Japan are just not doing this.
When Robert Jacobs was asked what is needed to get the situation under control, he explained that with such a large nuclear disaster as this and so unique, that there is no solution. He believes it could take decades to stop the reactors leaking.
In relation to the 2020 Olympics, this could be devastating. Contamination is still being found across northern Japan two-and-a-half-years later. There is no certainty that the leaks will be contained in time and if there is another earthquake or typhoon, more destruction could add to the situation. There is a spent fuel pool in the number four reactor several floors up which holds an immense amount of spent nuclear fuel rods. If the building were to collapse, these rods could spill all over the ground, making the Olympics impossible and threatening all kinds of serious health issues.
Japanese members of the Global Ecovillage Network have requested prayers for the people at Fukushima who are manually trying to remove spent fuel rods from the pool in Reactor 4 because the building is badly damaged and potentially unstable.
"Removing the rods from the pool is a delicate task normally assisted by computers," according to Toshio Kimura, a former Tepco technician, who worked at Fukushima Daiichi for 11 years. "Previously it was a computer-controlled process that memorized the exact locations of the rods down to the millimeter and now they don't have that. It has to be done manually so there is a high risk that they will drop and break one of the fuel rods," Kimura said.
"The amount of cesium 137 in this pool is equivalent to 14,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs," said Hiroaki Koide, assistant professor at Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute.
"The media coverage of the situation has been almost non-existent. The public must become engaged and governments must become engaged because this is a global threat. They say that one microgram of plutonium could theoretically kill a person. There are billion micrograms in a kilogram and there are 400,000 hot kilograms in this pool. So, if these rods combust, if the set of rods begins a thermonuclear reaction, it will vaporize the water in the pool and the entire pool can become an uncontrolled nuclear reaction open to the air. These particles will be spread through the northern hemisphere."
Never have there been more compelling reasons for us to fully understand how interconnected we are on this Earth and to promote the conservation of energy and benign renewable technologies at all costs.
The full interview with Professor Robert Jacobs can be read HERE.
For more details of the World Prayer for the people working at Fukushima and information about the pool in Reactor 4 see Fukushima - Earth
READ this excellent article: The World Must Take Charge at Fukushima by Dr Mae Wan Ho
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