Friday, December 16, 2011

Fukushima Declared "Stable" as Skeptics Doubt


Skeptics cast doubt on Fukushima status, even as Japan declares nuclear reactors 'stable'

Japan's government declared that the damaged reactors from the Fukushima disaster were 'stable.' Not everyone is convinced.

By Arthur BrightCorrespondent / December 16, 2011

not good...

"If the authorities are correct and cooling of the reactors is stable, it would be an important milestone in ending the world's worst nuclear accident since the 1986 Chernobyl crisis," writes the Times.
But the Times adds that skeptics worry that the readings would be inaccurate if the melted fuel rods punctured their containment vessels and fell to the bottoms of the outer containment tanks.  TEPCO has not been able to take direct measurements of the temperatures at the bottoms of the containment vessels, and the site is still too radioactive for the fuel rods' status to be visually confirmed.
Even if the reactor is under control, the cleanup could still take 30 years, and the problems remain "immense," writes The Wall Street Journal.
Indeed, there can be few firm declarations about the plant's status. Daiichi's reactors are littered with debris. Many measurement and control systems are on the blink. Radiation levels are too high for people to get close to the reactors, leaving engineers and scientists to make important judgments using computer simulations, scattered bits of data and guesses.
And whether the cleanup effort is moving ahead is dubious, according to an undercover report by freelance reporter Tomohiko Suzuki. Mr. Suzuki worked at the Fukushima No. 1 site for a month as a general laborer while documenting a long list of substandard practices and unsafe behavior by companies involved in cleanup at the plant. He charges that "absolutely no progress is being made" toward resolving the Fukushima crisis, reports the Mainichi Daily News


"Working at Fukushima is equivalent to being given an order to die," Suzuki quoted one nuclear-related company source as saying. He says plant workers regularly manipulate their radiation readings by reversing their dosimeters or putting them in their socks, giving them an extra 10 to 30 minutes on-site before they reach their daily dosage limit. In extreme cases, Suzuki said, workers even leave the radiation meters in their dormitories.

...that former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, in an article he co-wrote with Tomoyuki Taira for British science journal Nature, called for the government to take over the Fukushima No. 1 power plant.  Mr. Hatoyama criticized TEPCO for providing the government only limited information on the status of the nuclear site, and said there needed to be a broad investigation of what went wrong.  As such, the plant "must be nationalized so that information can be gathered openly," he argues. 


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