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Call to action (reactor no.4)

 May 30, 2013

Call to action to UN Secretary General to prevent catastrophic high-level radioactive waste fire at Fukushima Daiichi Unit 4




April 30, 2013

In July 2012, Enformable Nuclear News posted this photo, showing the significant change of appearance going on at Fukushima Daiichi Unit 4, when TEPCO began removing large debris, such as destroyed walls, from the Unit 4 reactor building, nearly 16 months after a hydrogen explosion severely damaged it. The yellow vessel is the visible portion of the primary radiological containment structure surrounding the reactor pressure vessel, which fortunately had been defueled and was not operational on March 11, 2011. In August 2012, that lid was removed. The crane in the foreground sits atop the surface of the high-level radioactive waste storage pool, shown in the photo covered by a metallic plate.In an open letter to the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, Japanese diplomat Akio Matsumura has renewed his warnings about the risk of a catastrophic fire in the high-level radioactive waste storage pool at Japan's ravaged Fukushima Daiichi Unit 4 atomic reactor (see photo, left).

What can you do?

Please take one or more of the following actions:

Contact Chairman Wyden's ENR Committee. Thank him for his courageous leadership on this issue, and urge him to renew his efforts to persuade the Obama administration to deploy the full resources of the U.S. government to prevent a catastrophe at Fukushima Daiichi Unit 4's high-level radioactive waste storage pool.

Contact the White House, Chairwoman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Allison Macfarlane, Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, Secretary of State John Kerry, and/or Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, urging them to support Chairman Wyden's call to action.

You can also contact your own U.S. Senators and U.S. Represenative, and urge them to support Chairman Wyden's efforts. To phone your Members of Congress, you can get patched through via the Capitol Switchboard: (202) 224-3121.

Background: Last year, Matsumura, working with the likes of former Japanese Ambassador to Switzerland, Murata, brought this grave risk to the attention of not only the Japanese people, but the world. Matsumura also called upon the U.S. government to take meaningful action, as the Japanese government obviously will not.

It now appears very unlikely that Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) will meet its own previous deadline of late 2013 for restoring sufficient infrastructure at Unit 4 to support the weight of a crane needed to lift 100-ton irradiated nuclear fuel waste transfer casks from the pool, several stories up in the air, to the ground. As mentioned in Matsumura's letter to Ban Ki-moon, an ongoing crisis of radioactively contaminated groundwater is distracting TEPCO's attention from such other priorities at the devastated site.

Predictions are that a magnitude 7.0 earthquake is likely to strike in northeast Japan in the next few years. It is doubtful that the Unit 4 reactor building, so badly damaged by the explosion which hit it after the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, could withstand such a large jolt. Its high-level radioactive waste storage pool still contains some 100-200 metric tons of irradiated nuclear fuel, which could catch fire if its cooling water supply is suddenly drained away (or more slowly boils away, as due to a long-term disruption to the electricity supply needed to power circulation pumps; shorter duration disruptions have been a recurring problem at the site). 

Robert Alvarez of Institute for Policy Studies has calculated that the Unit 4 pool contains more than 10 times the hazardous radioactive Cesium-137 than was released during the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe. The Unit 4 pool has no radiological containment structure around it. In fact, it is open-air. Thus, any radiological releases would be directly into the environment, and would quickly dwarf what has already been released during the past two years of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe.

The pool needs to be emptied of its irradiated nuclear fuel before such an unthinkable catastrophe unfolds. But how?

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), now Chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, donned a radiation protection suit and visited Fukushima Daiichi in April 2012. Upon his return, he urgently called upon the U.S. government to offer to the Japanese government the full resources at its disposal, to aid in the emptying of the Unit 4 high-level radioactive waste storage pool. But there was no response from the Obama administration.

Now that President Obama has won a second term, and has new leadership at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Department of Energy, State Department, and Department of Defense, it is a good time to renew Sen. Wyden's April 2012 call.

Lastly, please consider making a tax deductible donation to support the vital work of Akio Matsumura. 


Update on May 30, 2013 by Registered Commenteradmin



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