Nuclear Expert: Japan Will Be Evacuated If Fukushima Reactor Collapses
Chris Canine, a chemist and nuclear expert formerly employed at Fukushima reactors 1 and 2, made a chilling prediction in an online comment addressed to the writers at Energy News.
He expressed his belief that in the event of the collapse of Fukushima nuclear reactor number 4, a complete evacuation of the entire country of Japan would be necessary. He writes:
There are several reasons why I believe the country will be evacuated if the #4 SFP collapses. The amount of radioactive material in the fuel pool dwarfs the total amount at Chernobyl by a factor of 5 to 10. Chernobyl’s core was still mostly contained in a building (although heavily damaged), and most of the radioactive material melted downward and became lava like. If #4 SFP collapses it will be lying on the completely open ground, probably going critical on and off in portions of the pile for years. The dose rate from this pile will make dropping sand or anything from the air much more lethal than anything at Chernobyl. And probably impossible. The entire site at Fukushima will be uninhabitable and unworkable because of the dose rate coming from this pile of fuel. That means there will be no control of the other fuel pools, and we could lose control of them.
Australian physicist Dr. Helen Caldicott believes similarly. Commenting on the difference in scale between the Chernobyl disaster of 1986 and the Fukushima crisis, she explains: “The levels at which the Russians evacuated Chernobyl was at 500,000 becquerels, [but] they have measured [in Fukushima] levels of between 3.5 and 14.5 million becquerels.”
Discussing the lack of concern expressed by the Japanese government regarding the Fukushima incident, Mr. Canine makes it clear that he believes the apparent confidence to be a political act, aimed at assuaging the people’s fears:
Nuclear experts will soft sell the ramifications because that is how the industry works. When the experts “have concerns” about the situation at #4 that means they are pooping their pants. My experience at Fukushima was 30 years ago. I worked in the industry for about 15 years as a health physics technician. I was also referred to as a “nuclear gypsy” because I traveled from plant to plant working outages. That meant I was always in the middle of the hottest jobs in the heart of the plant. The engineers will talk about this part or that part of a plant, but I have been all those places wearing full gear.
Mr. Canine did not offer any comment on how so massive an evacuation could be accomplished, or how much time would be available following a reactor collapse to carry out such a complex logistical operation.