Monday, September 16, 2013

Fukushima: an even bigger danger to come?

Via Zero Hedge, Saturday’s article from George Washington’s Blog[1] recaps the disaster so far – Tepco having no idea how to solve the problem, no-one sure of the state or exact position of the reactor cores, continuing massive leakage of radioactive water that will be taken to California by ocean currents.

But then it caps that with a scarier scenario: if the spent-fuel pools leak enough water and air reaches the stored fuel assemblies, there could be an uncontrollable fire, releasing far more radiation into the atmosphere than happened at Chernobyl – Fukushima was using about 9 times more fuel than the Russian operation[2]
In Mid-August, reported[3] the operation to remove spent fuel from under the No. 4 reactor; a minor earthquake or dropping a fuel assembly could also trigger a nuclear fire.

Last March, Robert Alvarez of the IPS in Washington gave a presentation[4] explaining the difficulties and dangers of Fukushima – including terrorism. He pointed out that US regulations allow for much larger spent-fuel pools, and that these are rapidly approaching capacity, so a plan for additional (and preferably dry) storage is urgently needed.
The technology is still in its infancy, despite the twisted assurance of some UK nuclear shill years ago who claimed that the industry had 100,000 (or was it a million?) years’ experience, as though 50 yearling babies could be credited with the knowledge of a 50-year-old adult. Yet the implications of shutdown and cleanup are very far-reaching: the half-life of Uranium 238 is 4.5 billion years, longer than the distance between us and the first monocellular life on Earth (see Slide 11 for other examples).

If not nuclear, what? Perhaps, since there is growing doubt about CO2’s contribution to global warming, we should reconsider coal. Maybe Arthur Scargill’s repeated point about the UK's reserves of deep-mined coal was apt, after all. Can they be recovered now?

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