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READ A MESSAGE FROM INTO ETERNITY DIRECTOR MICHAEL MADSEN IN RESPONSE TO THE DIRE EMERGENCY IN FUKISHIMA AFTER THE JAPAN EARTHQUAKE  
     
 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Dear All -

I am monitoring the situation in Japan here from Berlin, and here´s a few remarks:

  • Very often (if not almost always), the nuclear waste from the power plants is stored next to the reactors on order to reduce the transport distance and thereby the risk (but also the difficulty in finding a place where people accept such stuff): In Japan the (separate) cooling system for the interim nuclear waste facility is likely also to have been affected, as all installations seems to have been flooded by the Tsunami or damaged due to the quake. I asked the Finnish Experts when making Into Eternity what would happen if the cooling water around the waste would somehow evaporate (if not cooled) or leak out (if physically damaged): In about one week the temperature will rise to 600-700 degree celsius starting a so-called radioactive fire.
    The Fukushima power plant has been in operation since the 1970s, with 6 reactors. I do not know if all reactors have been operating all the time, but an average reactor holds about 25 tonnes of high level nuclear material, and typically in a cycle of 4 years all this material is replaced. Let´s just assume that the 6 reactors have operated over 30 years, that’s a total of 180 years when viewed as one reactor - this time-period viewed in terms of fuel-cycles is 45 x 25 tonnes = 1125 tonnes of high level nuclear waste probably sitting next to the plant / 0.3% if the total amount waste in the world). The latest batches will still need cooling for 40 years.
  • From the beginning I have been told by the Finnish experts, that a final facility for high-level nuclear waste can never be achieved in Japan exactly because of the earth-quake geology. If there already has been a partial melt down - or a full will occur, we must imagine that about 25 tons of high-level nuclear material heats up along with the metal-casing creating a soup of, I think, many thousand tonnes which by gravity will float down into a kind of "undercup" designed to prevent what the so-called "China-syndrome". De facto, as I see it, such a meltdown will create a radioactive substance of such a magnitude that it can never be removed, as you cannot "dismantle" it (as you can with fuel-rods, which weighs perhaps a few 100 kg each, and which you have designed machinery to move around), only create a "sarcophagus" as in the case of Chernobyl - in reality a surface ONKALO which will need to be able to last for 100,000 years in one of the very worst earthquake areas in the world.
  • One of the "unkowns" concerning storing high-level nuclear waste for 100,000 years is what happens inside the waste for this timespan, as almost all known elements in the universe are created in the nuclear processes. In Japan they now try to cool the reactors by using seawater. Apart from actually - according to experts - being an act of desperation which will not only destroy the reactor (signifying to what extreme the situation already by now is), flooding with seawater will also mean that the chemical "mixture" inside the reactor will not be known anymore, as the seawater is not "pure". I do not know if this has been tried before, or if this is in fact a kind of full scale experiment?
  • European experts have already been out saying that such a disaster cannot happen in Europe because we do not have earthquakes or tsunamies. Several points are important to note: Japan has always known about the danger, and have thought to have been building accordingly. They were wrong. In other words: We are not, I repeat, not dealing with a natural disaster, but with human error. And in this respect with exactly the same thing which triggered Chernobyl: a human error. So even if you think that building for Richter Scale 11 earthquakes is sufficient, we will never know if this will be enough, just as we will never know the limits for human errors. What we do know for certain, however, is that private companies can only have as their goal to make a profit and this is why attempts were made in Japan to hide a near-meltdown in 1987, as the company knew it would destroy business - and ultimately the global power structures which today argue in the name of CO2 for a nuclear renaissance.
  • Finally: Even if I sit here in Europe feeling lucky that Japan is halfway around the globe: If the situation gets worse + the wind changes (as is the forecast for Wednesday, 3/16 (in time for all the heat to build up futher?)) in the direction of Tokyo, it will never be possible to move 35 million people. As one Expert on TV said: Japan could be down on the floor. Japan is the world’s 3rd largest economy and we know what kind of tsunami we are then talking about.

All, in the most profound meaning, the best

Michael

 

 
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