Fears continue over potential collapse of Fukushima Daiichi Unit 4 high-level radioactive waste storage pool
The article is based largely on New York Times reporting in an article entitled "Concerns Grow About Spent Fuel Rods at Fukushima Daiichi," by Hiroko Tabuchi and Matthew L. Wald on May 26, 2012.
The New York Times reported that Goshi Hosono, Japan's environment and nuclear minister, inspected "the No. 4 reactor building at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, Saturday, May 26, 2012. The visit by Hosono, apparently aimed at demonstrating the safety of the facility, came amid renewed concerns about conditions at the plant's No. 4 reactor after its operator reported a bulging of the building's wall. (Toshiaki Shimizu, Japan Pool) [Yellow reactor containment dome at center background.]" (see photo, left; note that the high-level radioactive waste pool is located beneath the white plastic tarp just beside Hosono on his left).
The New York Times also quotes Hiroaki Koide, an assistant professor at Kyoto University’s Research Reactor Institute and one of the experts raising concerns: “The No. 4 reactor is visibly damaged and in a fragile state, down to the floor that holds the spent fuel pool. Any radioactive release could be huge and go directly into the environment.”
(Koide spoke on May 5th at the University of Chicago. Beyond Nuclear partner Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS) information tabled at the event, while Beyond Nuclear covered the Chicago Green Festival.)
The New York Times also quoted Tadahiro Katsuta, an associate professor of nuclear science at Tokyo’s Meiji University: “Japan did not want to admit that the nuclear fuel cycle might be a failed policy, and did not think seriously about a safer, more permanent way to store spent fuel.”
(In August 2010, Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps was introduced to Dr. Katsuta in Tokyo, not long after Kevin had visited Fukushima Daiichi. In September 2010, Dr. Katsuta requested that Kevin help him arrange meetings in Washington, D.C. Dr. Katsuta was working in collaboration with Dr. Frank Von Hippel at Princeton University on a study regarding alternatives to reprocessing irradiated nuclear fuel in Japan. While the Nuclear Energy Institute's Steve Kraft, and the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future's Allison Macfarlane, gladly accepted Dr. Katsuta's invitation to meet, not one office at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission accepted the request. This despite initially positive responses from a number of NRC Commissioners' offices, as well as NRC's Spent Fuel Project Office, its international relations office, etc. Apparently, the kabosh was put on any meetings taking place at NRC once the Office of Public Affairs found out. NRC's OPA is headed by Elliot Brenner, who previously headed communications for Dick Cheney.)
On May 30th, Thom Hartmann, host of The Big Picture, interviewed Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear about the latest news on Fukushima Daiichi Unit 4's high-level radioactive waste storage pool (this discussion begins at minute 7:30 -- prior to that, Thom and Kevin discuss the breaking news of Fukushima radioactively contaminated bluefin tuna documented on the California coast).