Health knowledge made personal
Join this community!
› Share page:
Go
Search posts:

The explosive truth behind Fukushima's meltdown/ The Independent

Posted Aug 17 2011 8:47pm
From McNeill and Adelstein at The Independent
It is one of the mysteries of Japan's ongoing nuclear crisis: How much damage did the 11 March earthquake inflict on the Fukushima Daiichi reactors before the tsunami hit?
The stakes are high: if the earthquake structurally compromised the plant and the safety of its nuclear fuel, then every similar reactor in Japan may have to be shut down.
With almost all of Japan's 54 reactors either offline (in the case of 35) or scheduled for shutdown by next April, the issue of structural safety looms over any discussion about restarting them.
Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) and Japan's government are hardly reliable adjudicators in this controversy. "There has been no meltdown," government spokesman Yukio Edano repeated in the days after 11 March. "It was an unforeseeable disaster," Tepco's then president Masataka Shimizu famously and improbably said later. Five months since the disaster, we now know that meltdown was already occurring as Mr Edano spoke. And far from being unforeseeable, the disaster had been repeatedly forewarned by industry critics...
The Independent has spoken to several workers at the plant who recite the same story: serious damage, to piping and at least one of the reactors, occurred before the tsunami hit. All have requested anonymity because they are still working at or connected with the stricken plant. Worker A, a maintenance engineer who was at the Fukushima complex on the day of the disaster, recalls hissing, leaking pipes...
The suspicion that the earthquake caused severe damage to the reactors is strengthened by reports that radiation leaked from the plant minutes later. The Bloomberg news agency has reported that a radiation alarm went off about a mile from the plant at 3.29pm, before the tsunami hit...
The reason for official reluctance to admit that the earthquake did direct structural damage to reactor one is obvious. Katsunobu Onda, author of Tepco: The Dark Empire, explains it this way: A government or industry admission "raises suspicions about the safety of every reactor they run. They are using a number of antiquated reactors that have the same systematic problems, the same wear and tear on the piping." Earthquakes, of course, are commonplace in Japan.

Mitsuhiko Tanaka, a former nuclear plant designer, describes what occurred on 11 March as a loss-of-coolant accident. "The data that Tepco has made public shows a huge loss of coolant within the first few hours of the earthquake. It can't be accounted for by the loss of electrical power. There was already so much damage to the cooling system that a meltdown was inevitable long before the tsunami came."...
Post a comment
Write a comment: