Fukushima threatens Global Human Survival

March 11, 2011 is a day that Japan will never forget. Fukushima is a name that the world will never forget. On that day, and in that place, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant suffered some damage from a major earthquake, and then was hit by a 50 foot tsunami. The enormous tidal wave flooded generators which shut down leading to a full meltdown in three of the six reactors. (One of the other reactors had been de-fueledand the remaining two were, thankfully, in cold shut down for maintenance purposes.) The disaster was eventually labelled Level 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES), making it the worst nuclear disaster after Chernobyl.  The radiation leaked into the air was way short of that at Chernobyl, but radioactive material in significant amounts was released into ground water and sea water that was used for cooling the reactors.

The disaster has led to endless discussion of what went wrong, could it have been avoided, could it happen elsewhere, should all nuclear plant be shuttered and so on. How countries respond to these questions could have immense impact on the planet.  The impact on Japan has been tremendous with great hardship for those who were evacuated, and may never see their homes again, and for the economic well-being of the country, which is still rationing electricity.  As a result some of its manufacturers feel compelled to explore the option of moving off-shore in order to have a reliable source of energy for their factories.

But, is Fukushima still a threat?

It seems that it is, and on a potentially devastating level. Mitsuhei Murata, who served his country as Ambassador to both Senegal and Switzerland, explained in a recent interview that far from the situation at the Fukushima Daiitsu plant improving, it is actually worsening in an alarming way:  the ground beneath the plant's number 4 reactor is sinking.  Mr Murata implied that the whole structure is on the verge of collapse. He wrote to the Secretary General of the United Nations stating unequivocally that the fate, not only of Japan, but of the rest of the world depends on the No. 4 reactor.

The cooling pool still contains more than fifteen hundred spent fuel rods.  The collective power of these “spent” rods is 37 million curies.  By comparison, the release of nuclear material at Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania (an INES level 5 event) amounted to approximately 2.5 million curies. In other words, there are nearly 15 Three Mile Islands sitting in the severely compromised Unit 4. 

The ground beneath Unit 4 has sunk by about 31.5 inches already.  Further sinking, or a minor earthquake could cause the entire structure to collapse, draining the pool and causing a meltdown of potentially catastrophic proportions.  Some scientists predict that this would mean the ruin of Japan and a serious threat to the rest of the world.


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