Thursday, April 7, 2011
I've previously documented that Japanese seismologists and nuclear engineers warned years ago that the risks of a large-scale nuclear accident in Japan were high, with one Japanese seismologist warning in 2004 that the risk of a nuclear accident was:
Like a kamikaze terrorist wrapped in bombs just waiting to explode.
I also showed that whistleblowers have been ignored:
Years before Fukushima engineer Mitsuhiko Tanaka blew the whistle on the fact that Tepco covered up a defective containment vessel, the above-quoted Japan Times article blew the whistle:Kikuchi and Sugaoka were ignored. Just like American whistle-blowers are being ignored.
Yoichi Kikuchi, a Japanese nuclear engineer who also became a whistle-blower, has told me personally of many safety problems at Japan's nuclear power plants, such as cracks in pipes in the cooling system from vibrations in the reactor. He said the electric companies are "gambling in a dangerous game to increase profits and decrease government oversight."
[Kei Sugaoka, a Japanese-American senior field engineer who worked for General Electric in the United States, who previously blew the whistle on Tepco's failure to inform the government of defects at the reactors] agreed, saying, "The scariest thing, on top of all the other problems, is that all nuclear power plants are aging, causing a deterioration of piping and joints which are always exposed to strong radiation and heat."
And after the March 11th disaster, the Japanese government has been covering up information.
Indeed, nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen points out that American and Japanese governments and nuclear companies are covering up many core facts concerning the Japanese nuclear crisis.
Tepco is covering up crucial information, including:
- After Gundersen pointed out that the existence of tellurium at Fukushima implies that re-criticality is coming, Tepco pulled the data, saying that the data is no longer accurate
- Tepco is denying that a blue neutron beam - also indicating re-criticality - has been observed
- Tepco has tried to deny the report of an eminent nuclear scientist that reactor number 2 had suffered a meltdown
Foreign Nuclear Companies
It's not just Tepco. Foreign nuclear companies are covering up as well.
For example, the large french nuclear corporation, Areva, has privately determined that:
- At reactors 1 through 3, the nuclear fuel reached 5,000 degrees, beyond the melting point of steel and the zirconium cladding of the spent fuel rods
- Containment in reactor number 2 was breached by hydrogen explosions. While the roof of reactor number 2 looks good (see photograph below), the hydrogen explosion blew out the containment, like a sneeze with your nose pinched and mouth closed will pop your ears:
- Crops and dairy products are polluted out to 50 kilometers from the nuclear site, well beyond what emergency zone is
- Unit 4 experienced "core melt in fresh air". The core melted because the fuel pool was cracked in the earthquake. The largest release is from reactor number 4. Because there is no containment as to the materials in the spent fuel rods, all fission products can be volatilized
- The person who prepared the Areva report said: "Clearly, we are witnessing one of the greatest disasters of our time."
But publicly, Areva is saying no problem, nuclear is safe.
Nuclear Regulatory CommissionNRC staff privately identified significant problems and dangers at Fukushima, including:
- A lot of "mud" inside the reactor, from injection of seawater
- The weight of building with all of the water in them might make it unstable in case of another earthquake
- Recriticitality of nuclear fuel.
- Plutonium ejected from fuel pools during the hydrogen explosion. NRC thinks that plutonium was ejected a couple of miles from the reactor
But the NRC is telling Congress and the public that the situation is under control.
Incidentally, Reuters reported yesterday:
U.S. regulators privately have expressed doubts that some of the nation's nuclear power plants are prepared for a Fukushima-scale disaster, undercutting their public confidence since Japan's nuclear crisis began, documents released by an independent safety watchdog group show.
Internal Nuclear Regulatory Commission e-mails and memos obtained by the Union of Concerned Scientists questioned the adequacy of the back-up plans to keep reactor cooling systems running if off-site power were lost for an extended period.
Those concerns seem to contrast with the confidence U.S. regulators and industry officials have publicly expressed after the world's worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl began to unfold on March 11, UCS officials said on Wednesday.
"While the NRC and the nuclear industry have been reassuring Americans that there is nothing to worry about -- that we can do a better job dealing with a nuclear disaster like the one that just happened in Japan -- it turns out that privately NRC senior analysts are not so sure," said Edwin Lyman, a UCS nuclear expert.