Alarming Radiation Ignored In Japan & North America
Fukushima Daiichi Site: Cesium-137 is 200 times greater than at Chernobyl Accident
April 3, 2012
Japan’s former Ambassador to Switzerland, Mr. Mitsuhei Murata, was invited to speak at the Public Hearing of the Budgetary Committee of the House of Councilors on March 22, 2012, on the Fukushima nuclear power plants accident. Before the Committee, Ambassador Murata strongly stated that if the crippled building of reactor unit 4—with 1,535 fuel rods in the spent fuel pool 100 feet (30 meters) above the ground—collapses, not only will it cause a shutdown of all six reactors but will also affect the common spent fuel pool containing 6,375 fuel rods, located some 50 meters from reactor 4. In both cases the radioactive rods are not protected by a containment vessel; dangerously, they are open to the air. This would certainly cause a global catastrophe like we have never before experienced. He stressed that the responsibility of Japan to the rest of the world is immeasurable. Such a catastrophe would affect us all for centuries. Ambassador Murata informed us that the total numbers of the spent fuel rods at the Fukushima Daiichi site excluding the rods in the pressure vessel is 11,421 (396+615+566+1,535+994+940+6375).
I asked top spent-fuel pools expert Mr. Robert Alvarez, former Senior Policy Advisor to the Secretary and Deputy Assistant Secretary for National Security and the Environment at the U.S. Department of Energy, for an explanation of the potential impact of the 11,421 rods.
I received an astounding response from Mr. Alvarez:
It is my understanding that of the 1,532 spent fuel assemblies in reactor No. 4, 304 assemblies are fresh and unirradiated. This then leaves 1,231 irradiated spent fuel rods in pool No. 4. Based on U.S. Energy Department data, assuming a total of 11,138 spent fuel assemblies are being stored at the Dai-Ichi site spent they contain roughly 982 million curies of intermediate and long-lived radionuclides. I used a higher estimate that Chernobyl released about 2.5 million curies in my earlier estimate regarding pool No. 4. It appears that there is roughly 393 million curies of Cesium-137 contained in the total spent fuel inventory at the Dai-Ichi site. This is more than 200 times the amount of Cs-137 released at the Chernobyl accident as estimated by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. National Council on Radiation Protection (NCRP). This is 145% more than the total NCRP estimate of Cs-137 released by all atmospheric nuclear weapons testing, Chernobyl, and world-wide reprocessing plants ( ~270 million curies or 1.0E+18 bequerels).
Many of our readers might find it difficult to appreciate the actual meaning of the figure, yet we can grasp what 200 times more Cesium-137 than the Chernobyl would mean. It would destroy the world environment and our civilization. This is not rocket science, nor does it connect to the pugilistic debate over nuclear power plants. This is an issue of human survival.