Wednesday, 27 January 2016 00:00
By Dahr Jamail, Truthout | Report
“Fukushima is the biggest industrial catastrophe in the history of mankind,” Arnold Gundersen, a former nuclear industry senior vice president, told Truthout shortly after a 9.0 earthquake in Japan caused a tsunami that destroyed the cooling system of Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO) nuclear plant in Fukushima, Japan.
While this statement might sound overdramatic, Gundersen may be right.
Several nuclear reactor meltdowns in the plant, which at the time forced the mandatory evacuations of thousands of people living within a 15-mile radius of the damaged power plant, persist, and experts like Gundersen continue to warn that this problem is not going to go away.
The March 11, 2011, 9.0 earthquake that destroyed the cooling systems at TEPCO led to hydrogen explosions and reactor meltdowns, and has left exposed highly radioactive materials that Gunderson says are the root of the problem. For now, there is no solution in sight.
“Fukushima has three nuclear reactors exposed and four fuel cores exposed,” Gundersen said. “You probably have the equivalent of 20 nuclear reactor cores because of the fuel cores, and they are all in desperate need of being cooled, and there is no means to cool them effectively.”
This persistent problem reared its head yet again in December 2015, when TEPCO was forced to deal with a massive amount of highly radioactive water generated by having to cool the reactors and exposed fuel cores Gundersen mentioned.
TEPCO must now transfer between 200 and 300 tons of groundwater into highly contaminated reactor buildings, having been unable to devise an effective plan for keeping the groundwater from continuing to flow under the plant.