Japan has long history of nuclear cover ups
March 14, 2011
All the nuclear reactors at the earthquake stricken Fukushima Dravidic plant are likely to melt down and explode in a chain reaction that will signify the world’s worst ever nuclear disaster.
The two explosions have already compromised the surrounding facilities. Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from a 20-km exclusion zone around the plant.
Casualties in the immediate vicinity of the facilities are likely to be far more than reported.
As reported by the BBC:
Japanese engineer Masashi Goto, who helped design the containment vessel for Fukushima’s reactor core, says the design was not enough to withstand earthquakes or tsunamis and the plant’s builders, Toshiba, knew this.ABC News In Australia reports:
Mr Goto says his greatest fear is that blasts at number 3 and number 1 reactors may have damaged the steel casing of the containment vessel designed to stop radioactive material escaping into the atmosphere.
He says that as the reactor uses mox (mixed oxide) fuel, the melting point is lower than that of conventional fuel. Should a meltdown and an explosion occur, he says, *****nium could be spread over an area up to twice as far as estimated for a conventional nuclear fuel explosion. The next 24 hours are critical, he says.
Currently the reactors are releasing small amounts of xenon-137 and iodine-131, which have a half life of 3.8-minutes and eight days respectively. But experts are more concerned by the release of cesium-137, which has a 30-year half-life.Professor Richard Wakeford, a nuclear expert at Manchester University, said yesterday: ‘If the fuel is not covered by cooling water it could become so hot it begins to melt – if all the fuel is uncovered you could get a large-scale meltdown.’
Professor Aidan Byrne, director of the College of Mathematical and Physical Sciences at the Australian National University in Canberra, says there’s still a chance the Japanese reactors could go into meltdown.
“It’s not impossible, because they have problems with the coolant. The Three Mile Island accident which is the previous one similar to this certainly did have a core meltdown. So it could happen in one or maybe even two of these [reactors],” he says.
Today it looks as if that scenario is playing out.
Shaun Burnie, an independent atomic energy consultant, also warns that Japan’s nuclear crisis is much worse than it seems:
The US has moved one of its aircraft carriers from the area after detecting low-level radiation 160km (100 miles) offshore.
The Japanese government is playing down the scale of the disaster, however, experts have pointed out that it has a long history of nuclear cover ups, and that this is the latest.
Documentary filmmaker Tony Barrell says in 2003 reactors across the country had to be shut down after it emerged the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) had hid accidents.
“They had to shut down 17 plants in 2003 because they’d been falsifying the records about what had been happening at them,” he said.
“Lives were threatened, systems broke down, there were failures to report and there were cover-ups. People pretended things hadn’t happened.”
Barrell says several other major incidents have occurred and gone relatively unreported:
“A place called Monju, which in 1995 sprang a leak in its liquid sodium cooling system which made the whole thing absolutely red hot and had to be shut down immediately and stayed shut down until the beginning of last year – 15 years.” he told ABC News in Australia.
Barrell also pointed out that the Fukushima Daiichi plant should have been shut down long ago because it is now 40 years old.
Should other plants in Japan experience complete meltdowns, the entire country could become a nuclear wasteground, and the radiation could engulf the entire planet, leading to huge numbers of deaths.