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Should TEPCO, should Japan, be allowed to attempt this on its own?

fukushima_reactor-4-2013We are now within two months of what may be humankind’s most dangerous moment since the Cuban Missile Crisis. There is no excuse for not acting. All the resources our species can muster must be focused on the fuel pool at Fukushima Unit 4. … Neither Tokyo Electric nor the government of Japan can go this alone. There is no excuse for deploying anything less than a coordinated team of the planet’s best scientists and engineers. …

We have two months or less to act. For now, we are petitioning the United Nations and President Obama to mobilize the global scientific and engineering community to take charge at Fukushima and the job of moving these fuel rods to safety.

Risky repair of Fukushima could spill 15,000x radiation of Hiroshima, create 85 Chernobyls, America Blog 9/23/2013 10:00am by  

Should TEPCO be allowed to attempt this on its own?

Should Japan be allowed to attempt this on its own?

This is the heart of today’s problem. In reality, the events that are about to unfold at Fukushima in the next 60 days will affect much of the world. They could in fact change life in the northern hemisphere, if the worst of the worst occurs.

The Japanese government has ceded control of the next phrase — removing more than 1300 fuel rods from Reactor 4 — to TEPCO. (Seems that Japan has a “corporate capture of government” problem similar to our own.) Reuters (quoted here):

Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) is already in a losing battle to stop radioactive water overflowing from another part of the facility, and experts question whether it will be able to pull off the removal of all the assemblies successfully.

“They are going to have difficulty in removing a significant number of the rods,” said Arnie Gundersen, a veteran U.S. nuclear engineer and director of Fairewinds Energy Education, who used to build fuel assemblies.

The operation, beginning this November at the plant’s Reactor No. 4, is fraught with danger, including the possibility of a large release of radiation if a fuel assembly breaks, gets stuck or gets too close to an adjacent bundle, said Gundersen and other nuclear experts. … The utility says it recognizes the operation will be difficult but believes it can carry it out safely.

Nonetheless, Tepco inspires little confidence. Sharply criticized for failing to protect the Fukushima plant against natural disasters, its handling of the crisis since then has also been lambasted.

Who has sovereignty here? Who has control? Better, who should have sovereignty and control?

TEPCO has sovereignty, ceded by the government of Japan. But should Japan itself be allowed sovereignty, or should “the world” take over the problem in its own interest?

Theoretically, it’s an interesting question, since we don’t generally talk about removing sovereignty from other first-world nations — only little guys in places like the Middle East or Latin America who bother us. Yet some writers are in fact worried that the consequences for Japan include bankrupting the economy and … loss of sovereignty. Japan Focus:

This is literally a matter of national security – another mistake by TEPCO could have incredibly costly, even fatal, consequences for Japan.

And according to former U.N. adviser Akio Matsumura (quoted here):

The meltdown and unprecedented release of radiation that would ensue is the worst case scenario that then-Prime Minister Kan and other former officials have discussed in the past months. He [Kan] warned during his speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos that such an accident would force the evacuation of the 35 million people in Tokyo, close half of Japan and compromise the nation’s sovereignty.

Such a humanitarian and environmental catastrophe is unimaginable. Hiroshi Tasaka, a nuclear engineer and special adviser to Prime Minister Kan immediately following the crisis, said the crisis “just opened Pandora’s Box.”

That’s then-Prime Minister Kan quoted in the bolded comment. As I said, it’s an interesting theoretical problem. Too bad it’s not just theoretical. This will all happen in November.

Bottom line — Should TEPCO be allowed to manage the removal of the fuel rods in November?

It comes down to this — TEPCO has shown itself to be both incompetent and deceitful. The government of Japan has shown itself willing to allow TEPCO to control the “cleanup” and “decommissioning” of the Fukushima facility.

Who should have control at Fukushima? TEPCO (after all, they “own it”)? The government of Japan (after all, it’s “their” country)? Or others in the world, acting in their own real interest? Harvey Wasserman, writing in Common Dreams (my emphasis and paragraphing):

We are now within two months of what may be humankind’s most dangerous moment since the Cuban Missile Crisis. There is no excuse for not acting. All the resources our species can muster must be focused on the fuel pool at Fukushima Unit 4. … Neither Tokyo Electric nor the government of Japan can go this alone. There is no excuse for deploying anything less than a coordinated team of the planet’s best scientists and engineers. …

We have two months or less to act. For now, we are petitioning the United Nations and President Obama to mobilize the global scientific and engineering community to take charge at Fukushima and the job of moving these fuel rods to safety.

If you have a better idea, please follow it. But do something and do it now. The clock is ticking.

I swear, the world is closer and closer to reading like a series of thrillers, isn’t it? I’m not sure what to make of all this; it seems so … thriller-y.

If you want to read more, your key articles (including lots of embedded links) are these:

▪ The Crisis at Fukushima’s Unit 4 Demands a Global Take-Over [Harvey Wasserman at Common Dreams]

▪ The REAL Fukushima Danger [Washingtonblog; lots of links]

▪ The Top Short-Term Threat to Humanity: The Fuel Pools of Fukushima [Washingtonblog; lots of links]

▪ Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster [Wikipedia]

Guess we’ll find out in November whether this works out or not. In the meantime, I thought you should know that some people are having this discussion, even if it’s not happening on TV, yet. (Know anyone at MSNBC you’d like to alert? Feel free; you don’t need permission to talk to the media.)

GP

To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius

http://americablog.com/2013/09/risky-repair-fukushima-spill-15000x-radiation-hiroshima-85x-chernobyl

September 25, 2013 - Posted by | Fukushima 2013

4 Comments »

  1. […] Should TEPCO, should Japan, be allowed to attempt this on its own? (nuclear-news.net) […]

    Pingback by Fukushima disaster news update | Dear Kitty. Some blog | September 26, 2013 | Reply

  2. […] Should TEPCO, should Japan, be allowed to attempt this on its own? (nuclear-news.net) […]

    Pingback by Fukushima update, 9/26/13, future plans | Vernon Radiation Safety | September 26, 2013 | Reply

  3. […] Should TEPCO, should Japan, be allowed to attempt this on its own? (nuclear-news.net) […]

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  4. […] Should TEPCO, should Japan, be allowed to attempt this on its own? (nuclear-news.net) […]

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