Why Fukushima is worse than you think
August 30th, 2013
09:02 AM ET

Why Fukushima is worse than you think

By Mycle Schneider, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Mycle Schneider is an independent international consultant on energy and nuclear policy based in Paris. He is the coordinator and lead author of the World Nuclear Industry Status Report. The views expressed are his own.

“Careless” was how Toyoshi Fuketa, commissioner of the Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority, reportedly described the inspection quality of hundreds of water tanks at the crippled Fukushima plant following the recent discovery of a serious radioactive spill. China’s Foreign Ministry went further, saying it was “shocking” that radioactive water was still leaking into the Pacific Ocean two years after the Fukushima incident.

Both comments are to the point, and although many inside and outside Japan surely did not realize how bad the March 11, 2011 disaster was – and how bad it could get – it seems clear now that we have been misled about the scale of the problem confronting Japan. The country needs international help – and quickly.

While the amount of radioactivity released into the environment in March 2011 has been estimated as between 10 percent and 50 percent of the fallout from the Chernobyl accident, the 400,000 tons of contaminated water stored on the Fukushima site contain more than 2.5 times the amount of radioactive cesium dispersed during the 1986 catastrophe in Ukraine.

So, where has this huge amount of highly contaminated water – enough to fill 160 Olympic-size swimming pools – come from? In the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, the reactor cores of units 1, 2 and 3 melted through the reactor vessels into the concrete. Nobody knows how far the molten fuel went through the containment – radiation levels in the reactor buildings are lethal, while robots got stuck in the rubble and some never came back out.

More from CNN: What Japanese leaders can learn

The molten fuel still needs to be cooled constantly and the operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), injects about 400 tons of water into the perforated reactor vessels every day. That water washes out radioactive elements and runs straight through into the basements that were flooded during the tsunami. By 2015, over 600,000 tons of highly radioactive liquid are expected to have accumulated in temporary tanks, some underground, many bolted rather than welded together, and none ever conceived to hold this kind of liquid over the long term. The dangerous fluid is pumped around in four kilometer long makeshift tubes, many of them made of vinyl rather than steel, and plagued with numerous leaks in the winter when the above ground lines get hit by frost.

TEPCO’s account of the discovery this month of the leak of 300 tons of highly radioactive water showed a frightening level of amateurism:

“We found water spread at the bottom level of tanks near the tank No.5... Therefore, we checked the water level of this tank, and… confirmed that the current water level is lower by approximately 3 meters than the normal level.”

TEPCO reportedly admitted that only 60 of 350 tanks in that area are equipped with volume gauges. “Inspection” is done visually by a worker with a radiation detector. Meanwhile, the soil around the leaking tank delivered a dose per hour equivalent to the legal limit for nuclear workers for five years. No remote radiation measuring devices, no remote handling.

The tank leak is just the latest in a long list of signs that things are going fundamentally wrong at the site of what could still turn out to be the most serious radiological event in history. And the situation could still get a lot worse. A massive spent fuel fire would likely dwarf the current dimensions of the catastrophe and could exceed the radioactivity releases of Chernobyl dozens of times. First, the pool walls could leak beyond the capacity to deliver cooling water or a reactor building could collapse following one of the hundreds of aftershocks. Then, the fuel cladding could ignite spontaneously releasing its entire radioactive inventory.

More from CNN: Japan ponders freezing ground

TEPCO’s inability to stabilize the site, and the dramatic failure of the Japanese government, now majority owner of TEPCO, should come as no surprise. Indeed, so far, the Nuclear Regulation Authority has seemed too busy trying to help restart the country’s stranded reactors to put adequate attention on stabilizing the Fukushima site.

The fact is that the Fukushima Daiichi site represents challenges of unprecedented complexity. Maintaining the cooling of three molten reactor cores and five spent fuel pools in a disaster zone is a job of titanic proportions. That is why two weeks after the crisis first erupted I suggested the creation of an International Task Force Fukushima (ITFF) that would pull together the world’s experts in key areas of concern: nuclear physics and engineering, core cooling, water management, spent fuel and radioactive waste storage, building integrity and radiation protection.

Two and a half years on, the need for such a taskforce has only grown.

An ITFF would need to be established for at least two years to be effective, and could have two co-chairpersons – one Japanese, one from abroad. A core group of about a dozen experts would work full-time on the project and could draw at will on the expertise of several dozen corresponding experts that are carefully selected by the core group. A significant share of the core group should be independent experts (i.e. with no link to corporate or state interests). In addition, the ITFF would work in an open expert network, free to draw on any expertise in any field that it judges pertinent. It could openly invite feedback to its recommendations and would do its utmost to assess comments and suggestions.

Of course, such a taskforce would not “supervise” or “control” – the responsibility for this would remain with the Japanese government and the regulator. But the ITFF could provide recommendations on short-, medium- and long-term strategies for site stabilization.

Will the call for such a taskforce gain any traction? I have presented the basic concept to safety authorities of several countries, acting and former ambassadors, ministers and the European Commission. But while some officials have pointed to some ongoing limited bilateral assistance, so far, the main stumbling block appears to be the “pattern of denial” in Japan, a problem that has affected not only TEPCO, but apparently the Japanese government and the safety authorities as well.

Thankfully, there have been some small signs in official declarations by TEPCO and the Japanese government in recent days that offer hope for a change in attitudes. And Japan’s image in the world – and the Japanese people’s trust in their institutions – would greatly profit from an explicit and concrete international project. The question is whether members of the international community can muster the will to put their own interests aside, and help Japan conquer the denial that is risking catastrophe.

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Topics: Japan • Nuclear

soundoff (509 Responses)
  1. Red

    Wouldn't it make sense to learn how to properly contain nuclear energy before building reactors?

    August 31, 2013 at 11:35 am | Reply
  2. HHHuntz

    An EMP solar event – of sufficient power and duration – could knock out power and fry electronics around the planet. Besides having no electrical power or computers for the planet – meaning virtually nothing would work – there would be no way to cool the many nuclear power plants.

    Has the US congress done anything to protect us from such an event? Nope.

    August 31, 2013 at 11:42 am | Reply
  3. HJC

    ACTUALLY THE PROBLEM IS EVEN WORSE THAN THIS REPORT!

    August 31, 2013 at 11:45 am | Reply
  4. Dandy

    The Asian cultures have some big social problems. They go to ridiculous lengths to save face.
    If it is bad, they won't admit it, and taking responsibility is something that few will do there. Sad as they have some very bright people.

    August 31, 2013 at 11:45 am | Reply
    • kmac

      Its not them its us–we spend more time watching show business news than world events. If you expect to get lots of news from here or Faux you lag behind. Commentary is cheap and easy to produce and that's most of these. Look around the net. Its a wonderful device to get news from everywhere. Paperboy.com will let you read from around the world Livescience is very good. fas.org is great. Spacewar.com wonderful site. Just a few.

      August 31, 2013 at 11:57 am | Reply
  5. kmac

    To keep up with this one must look at the right site. Too many depend on entertainment channel that call themselves news. Try fas. org to keep up.

    August 31, 2013 at 11:51 am | Reply
  6. Margaret

    I suppose that there are people who are saying why should we care. Well for one the oceans connect all of us. We have dumped tons and tons of trash and waste into the oceans. We are upset when a family with children is found living in a trash and feces, infested apartment or house, but we are doing the same thing with our planet. How sad is that.

    August 31, 2013 at 12:14 pm | Reply
  7. John

    Can't they just pour 3 million gallons of pepto bismol on it..

    August 31, 2013 at 12:15 pm | Reply
  8. yeah we told you so

    yeah we told you so.
    radiation disaster on this scale is forever.
    earthquakes happen and so do tidal waves that cab be followed by massive power outages leading to a nuke plant total melt down and reactor explosion and a radioactive fire of burning fuel rods that is still burning today under tons of water that leaks into the ocean.

    August 31, 2013 at 12:22 pm | Reply
  9. RobM

    Coal power plants aren't looking so bad now.

    August 31, 2013 at 12:29 pm | Reply
    • Killian

      1. That plant was ancient in terms of how long we've been using nuclear power.

      2. This will not effect anybody and is another hyped up media story.

      3. Nuclear power should be used more, the new Westinghouse AP1000s and very safe and we have the fuel for centuries just sitting here. It would be better on the environment, cost to maintain, and be safer than coal or other plants. The new designs are great.

      August 31, 2013 at 1:31 pm | Reply
      • Kathleen Lawler

        Killian did you know about the radioactive sword fish infact several of them caught off of the weat coast of America.

        August 31, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
      • Jack33

        Yes, it's better than coal, but still not a very great solution, as the nuclear-utopia types always love to deny a few realities.

        1. These things are insanely expensive, and always require Government (read public) subsidies of massive proportions. Who is going to pay for it?
        2. Waste disposal is still an issue in terms of high expense and lack of locations that is pushed down the road repeatedly. How about we put it in your back yard?
        3. The extreme costs of upkeep are never counted.
        4. The time frame required to build these things is vast. Much of the equipment is 14-20 years behind the times when it comes on the market, and oversights are enormous to pay for at that point.

        August 31, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
      • Eric J. Beck

        Nuclear powers' days are coming to an end. Nuclear power is NOT safe. Not by a long shot.

        Hyped up media story?!? Nonsense. The media, under the control of HUGE advertisers in Big Energy, haven't hyped it enough. That's we're only now learning of the severity. And won't hurt anyone?!? Are you nuts? Ask the and sick and dying that trail these nuclear disasters...Not to mention for contamination.

        Frequency of accidents is not the measure here. It's the severity that counts. One nuclear accident can have effects that last hundreds of years, if not thousands.

        Who cares what Westinghouse manufactures. The technology, as we have seen over and over, is inherently dangerous, especially since human error is bound to rear it's ugly but inevitable head over and over again.

        Oh, and what are we supposed to do with all this nuclear waste piling up? Bury it in your backyard?

        August 31, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
      • kf6nfw

        How can you say it wont hurt anyone? Does the radiation ignore aquatic life and let them live without consequence? do you know how much radiation is harmful for every person? When was the last time you read up on radiation hazards?

        As a person with endoresments for Radiological events such as Fukushima I can tell you there will be great environmental impact, and the last time I looked , we need our environment unaltered in order to survive. No we arent likely going to grow a third eye in middle of the ear canal, or grow 10 inches bigger or for that matter mutate into some awful looking life form. Consider Chernobyl, or even Three Mile Island, now true TMI was only close to a melt down but did not. Chernobyl on the other hand destroyed everything around it for 20 years. Plant life has returned now and there are great signs of progress as wild life is moving in, but still not declared safe for human habitation.
        Coastal communities have already been exposed on the west coast , but it will be a few more years before we are able to pinpoint what is or is not a part of the event. Fukushima is an ongoing disaster, that will continue until every last drop of contaminated materials and water included are sheltered again in a container that does Not leak, Until then, we are all at risk. There are already higher amounts of radioactive materials in the air, and nothing we can do about it unless you wish to wear full NBC suits, and possibly never leave your home which would require a true Air scrubber to filter out particles.

        August 31, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
      • dvb@rocketmail.com

        wrong.
        Those power plants were american in design, and the same as many running in the US right now. 'New' designs, at least those with ANY chance of being built are only very slightly different then fukashima, and many of those differences ahve to do with efficiency more then safety. We have better safety systems in place for the design time, which is about 3 days, after that we run into the same issues of insufficient cooling.

        With that we STILL have no dealt with the problem of nuclear waste. We don't have permanent storage for what we have already produced. The only 'solution' we have to date is temporary storage on site. That is an amateur solution bred from the need for profits before safety.

        Coal.. well coal is just redicuous, you're right there. Fortunately we have other resources in this country. Natural gas in the short term is cleaner, and uses current technology. Solar and wind are coming up quick. Hydro is slow and steady, but we've reached our max on dams, so we're not gaining there anymore. Tidal and other forms still have great potential.

        We have solutions.. coal and nuclear are the future. ...in 1950. Today we know better.

        August 31, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
      • Killian

        I can't even respond to all of these things before getting a headache on how wrong a lot of this is.

        Some fish has levels of radiation? That's pretty natural actually. Granite counter tops give off radiation, cigarette smoke carries alpha radiation.

        They cost a lot? There is a reason the DoE has not been affected by sequestration, it pays for over 90% of its bills that it ever makes and costs the government very little, including nuclear power plants.

        I do know how much radiation tends to harm a person, widely available so I hope you do as well. Do you know that the majority of radiation that you receive on a daily basis is actually healthy for your body? Yes, I know that is different than what would happen if you ingested Cs-137 (which is not the primary containment).

        Are there seriously complaints about nuclear waste? You must have no idea how little waste there actually is or how much is made. While it is very nasty stuff, it's currently sitting at a lot of the nuclear plants in extremely secure containers that you can walk up to and touch or hug and nothing bad will happen to you.

        There is a huge difference between those reactors and the AP1000. While it may not be apparent to somebody who talks out of their ass, there is, and it is primarily safety. Unless gravity stops working I would gladly place money that nothing wrong could happen with them. It is safe, stop cowering at the word radiation.

        August 31, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
    • fly4vino

      One of the easiest risk reduction options for US nuclear plants is to get the spent fuel out of reactor site and shipped to a reprocessing facility , permanent storage or interim storage area. Unfortunately opponents of nuclear power ( many of whom are also investors in tax subsidized green energy projects to provide power at 3-10 times the cost of nuclear power) have blocked multiple attempts to establish remote, secure storage facilities for spent fuel.

      Even a large conventional weapon directed into the spent fuel pool of a nuclear plant near intensely populated areas could create a major disaster.

      August 31, 2013 at 1:42 pm | Reply
      • david be

        ..or aimed at the new storage facility, or aimed at the train as it goes through a populated area. ..or or or. Even if we dropped the stockade to our permanent storage facility (not the singular) it doesn't have the capacity to hold what we have on hand already. Transporting it to the site incurs significant risk all on its own. Meanwhile we keep producing more of the stuff which we cant handle.

        August 31, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • King Coal

      That is absolutely correct, but Obama wants to construct new nuclear power plants in the US despite the fact that we have no long term nuclear waste storage site for these high level wastes generated by these power plants. The nuclear waste problem must be solved before constructing any more nuclear plants and the ones that are currently operating should be removed from service because our Federal government has no plan to deal with the waste. The facility designed to store the waste in Yucca Mountain by the Federal government was nixed by our dear leader's right hand man, Nevada Senate Majority leader Harry Reid after Federal tax payers spent millions of dollars on the facility.

      August 31, 2013 at 1:50 pm | Reply
      • david be

        Yes. ..and we an see from the story that the risk is stratospheric with these plants. Yes the safety engineering is amazing, the margins are high. Safety however is relative to the risk that its confronting.

        These plants create massive amounts of electricity. While they operate, even with all the safety costs (and completely ignoring the costs of dealing with the waste), they are VERY profitable. So when the government is made responsible for cleaning up the waste it makes those private companies even more attractive.

        At the same time the cost for almost any error is catastrophe. How much is fukashima going to cost? How much does that 400 million tons of water, treatment, storage, manpower, monitoring, planning, engineering, and general cleanup cost? ..and thats just so far. How much has Chernobyl cost? ..and thats without considering the new cap they still have to build for it to 'permanently' cover it. That is also just to date, those lands will never in human time be habitable again. It will be longer in the future then the total of human history before we can use those lands again. Entire towns in those countries were permanently erased. How much does that cost?

        The cost isnt like getting rid of an old car. That can be resold, it can be scrapped and recycled, sold for parts. This is like taking that old car and saying the entire parking lot where it broke down, including the mall nearby, and all the goods inside, will never be used again. Mean while it leaks those toxins into the surrounding area and poisons food supplies for the world, even if it is to a minor level. Sure the car was useful. It wasn't that useful.

        August 31, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
    • Liz

      Except for the fact that Nuclear plants tend to only lead to deaths with people make ridiculous mistakes whereas Coal Power leads to deaths and illnesses yearly even if the industry is working perfectly fine. Oh and Coal can run out where nuclear or green energies can't.

      August 31, 2013 at 2:17 pm | Reply
      • King Coal

        There are two major coal fired plants near my town, they emit little in the way of "soot". As for carbon dioxide, better stop breathing because you emit carbon dioxide. The CDC has conducted an intensive study in my town looking for health impacts from these plants on the town residents and could fine absolutely no increases in any disease or respiratory conditions from the typical US population. I will take coal or gas fired electricity any day over nuclear.

        August 31, 2013 at 9:48 pm |
    • GuillG

      No, coal is still as bad, causing respiratory diseases and cancers by millions worldwide, and the coal energy industry is recklessly sending its waste (carbon dioxide and soot) in the atmosphere, being subject to only a tiny tiny fraction of the regulations that the nuclear industry is subject to.

      August 31, 2013 at 3:01 pm | Reply
  10. newscale62

    If mercury wasn't a good enough reason to re-evaluate Pacific seafood consumption, this is. Meanwhile, what about the effect on domestic west coast produce when the the tainted water finds its way here (projected in 2017).

    August 31, 2013 at 12:44 pm | Reply
    • OBURN

      Too late the west coast has been getting hit for months now.

      August 31, 2013 at 1:00 pm | Reply
    • Killian

      This will not effect your seafood ever. It's a hyped up news story and the guy who printed this is an anti-nuclear activist who is lying out of his teeth.

      August 31, 2013 at 1:33 pm | Reply
      • T

        This affects everybody. If you don't think so, then go play, live, and farm near this disaster area. Don't project arbitrary standards of health and living onto others. The ocean is being contaminated.

        August 31, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
      • SD

        Killian- your ignorance is amazing

        August 31, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
      • Killian

        It's not ignorance on my part. I know the amount of water being contaminated, the contaminates, and the amount of radiation being leaked into the ocean. It's widely available knowledge and if you use your brain a little you'd see how laughable this is. Everyone freaks out when they hear radiation because they themselves are ignorant about what it really is.

        August 31, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
    • Patrick Friel

      Not to worry, west coast residents and those consuming produce grown there will eventually develop two heads.
      We all know two heads are better than one, which will lead us to a solution having twice the brain power.
      Of course, my theory may, indeed, lack SOME scientific validity.; I recognize that for, after all, I'm not totally crazy...a li'l bit but not totally.

      August 31, 2013 at 1:35 pm | Reply
      • Jokester

        Two heads will help eliminate insanity because when the first brain produces an insane thought, the failover brain will take over.

        August 31, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
  11. Black Dynamite

    This is real news! This is not some made-up war by the Globalists. This is what's important.
    The whole planet's ecology is getting contaminated, and there is little anyone is doing about it.
    BD

    August 31, 2013 at 12:45 pm | Reply
  12. Jerry Okamura

    Why is radiation a problem at Fukushima and it apparently is not a problem in the two cities where atomic bombs were actually used, i.e. Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

    August 31, 2013 at 12:49 pm | Reply
    • RCrocker

      Huge difference. A simple way to look at it; weight of core of nuclear bomb – 10 lbs; duration of nuclear reaction – a few miliseconds. Weight of core of nuclear reactor – 10,000 lbs, duration of nuclear reaction – continuous.
      But the real reason is an utterly massive inventory – tens of thousands of tons of stuff, of really nasty radioactive materials, is no longer under anyone's control and there is nothing they or anyone else can do about it, now or ever.

      August 31, 2013 at 2:32 pm | Reply
      • david be

        good answer.

        August 31, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
  13. John Blackadder

    There's a bit of serious panic mongering here! All that Cesium (2.5 times Chernobyl) is being dispersed in an ocean of seawater. It's not going to harm anyone.
    The Fukushima reactor area is a different story. That's going to to take a while to fix, but we already knew that.

    August 31, 2013 at 12:55 pm | Reply
    • beav

      If many of the people that posted on this thread had any sort of fundamental understanding of what you said, this would be the fairly local issue that it should be.
      Ignorance runs rampant while Intelligence clears its throat.

      August 31, 2013 at 1:13 pm | Reply
      • david be

        The cesium seawater release is a symptom not the disease. They didn't even know that release was happening until know, or were willfully ignorant of it. This particular release may not be deadly to millions, may not even effect them overall, but it is still a problem.

        If they lose containment of their coolant the dispersal will be worse. If cooling fails and they have a massive burnoff, the dispersal will be worse. Worse yet that fire would lead to massive amounts of that radiation being dispersed in the air. Where does it go? Depends on the wind. Thats very reassuring.

        Its fear mongering because radioactive waste is scary stuff. Anyone who thinks it isn't just doesn't know what they are dealing with. This stuff is massively deadly, and unseen. It leads to horrible horrible symptoms when it gets to high enough levels. It isnt something that you look at low levels and sigh.

        It does not mean that in this instance that we run around like the end of the world has come. There are real lessons to be learned about the actual cost and dangers behind this 'cheap' power source.

        August 31, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
    • Henry

      I think not. We did not k ow how badly the plant "fix-up" was going, or that they could lose control of the situation. You make it sound like we knew that and so what? Not the case at all!

      August 31, 2013 at 2:28 pm | Reply
  14. fred

    i've been complaining about this since it happened 2.5 yrs ago. the US govt should have been all over them to encase it like the russians did. i haven't eaten fish since, i believe the pacific is contaminated more than people think. it really irritates me. i can't believe they built it right on the ocean in a tsunami prone region.

    August 31, 2013 at 12:58 pm | Reply
  15. patw

    Obama, CNN, and the liberals won't rest until we are sitting in the dark because even campfires are illegal.

    August 31, 2013 at 1:01 pm | Reply
    • Solitairedog

      Why bother commenting if you are going to make such a dumb comment, just to express your political opinion on a completely different subject? Clown.

      August 31, 2013 at 1:05 pm | Reply
    • The Truth

      People like Patw are the problem and offer no solutions to real issues. They would rather us do nothing and destroy the whole planet then rage against "liberhuls" and "commies" as being the problem for doing nothing. With these s-bags everything is a plot against their failed ideology. Reporting about a serious situation is always some conspiracy against their agenda. I despise the rwing and everything they stand for. They have declared war on moderate governance, the environment and anything that resembles freedom and moderation.

      August 31, 2013 at 1:14 pm | Reply
    • Klazzik

      It amazes me how ignorant people are so willing to publish their ignorance. Take a nap. Sheesh

      August 31, 2013 at 1:33 pm | Reply
    • david be

      Or you can listen to what the president actually says and realize that hes taking us towards technologies that we can develop into the power sources of the future. He's looking to the future instead of pretending that we need to rely on the technology of the 50's to do everything for us 60 years later.

      We are a technologically based nation, and we shouldn't be scared to develop new technology. This is especially true when the old tech is so blatantly showing us its problems, and we have a handle on the way ahead. We don't need to rely on that campfire to be our power source.

      August 31, 2013 at 3:50 pm | Reply
  16. fakefakefake

    within a week of the disaster, the global financial elites crunched the numbers and realized that thefukushima-related insurance claims alone had already surpassed what they would normally pay globally in one whole year.

    that's when their lackey government regulators stopped counting and measuring anything about fukushima. no data, no damage, no claims, no payments, no problem.

    August 31, 2013 at 1:03 pm | Reply
  17. A real Christian

    Damn all "science". Put you faith in Jesus.

    August 31, 2013 at 1:06 pm | Reply
    • Mike

      Ya that will fix it.

      August 31, 2013 at 1:25 pm | Reply
    • Klazzik

      What is YOU Faith? Read a dictionary instead of the bible.

      August 31, 2013 at 1:39 pm | Reply
  18. Jacob

    This is not news, the leakage has been consistent since 2011. There are many untruths to this article. But the danger is real. While Washingtonians have the socialite dinner parties with politicians and foreign dignitaries, our planet is rotting from the irresponsibilities of the very people who are in charge of overseeing governmental action to act in this situation. But having Russian caviar and stepping over people to gain a foothold to that retirement to that beach front home is more important in this day and age.

    August 31, 2013 at 1:07 pm | Reply
    • Foogoogle

      And what is your contribution to this situation? Or is it only the responsibility of "the people in charge." Do you think they are any smarter than you are?

      August 31, 2013 at 1:15 pm | Reply
    • Richard

      Yes, because "Washingtonians were all elected by the Chinese and have complete control over what happens in China. Your statement makes absolutely no sense and is simply a regurgitation of the crap that you hear on FAUX NOIZE.

      August 31, 2013 at 1:39 pm | Reply
  19. DocRuff

    Folks, I posted here and on Huffington post back within weeks of the tragedy: This is VERY bad!

    At that time, someone in a position of authority said, "this will take about 3-months to get on top of / get under control."

    My response, "you're off by an order of magnitude: Try 300 to 3,000 YEARS!"

    The melt down of a reactor is serious business...and it's possible that more than one of these reactors melted down.

    Somebody wasn't being honest when saying things weren't that bad!

    August 31, 2013 at 1:11 pm | Reply
  20. DAVID LAMBERT

    This is a misleading report with a strong intention to overstate the issues of environmental impacts. There is enough information in the international assessments to blame TEPCO for bad design, mismanagement of accident and lack of candor now. However, public and worker health impacts, including radiological, are far less than Chernobyl has been or will be. Leakage from tanks or pools is not the same as air blown containments or the inability to handle a damaged facility like Chernobyl. The ability to measure and control stored contaminated water is a concern but overstating that concern is not helpful.

    August 31, 2013 at 1:13 pm | Reply
    • The Truth

      Where is your scientific paper to discredit the information or your credentials to trump the author? Thought so.. go back to your hole.

      August 31, 2013 at 1:16 pm | Reply
  21. Magister

    I have never been a "green" person, but nuclear power in any form is a genie that should never have left the bottle. What a phenomenal screw-up it was.

    August 31, 2013 at 1:26 pm | Reply
  22. Michael Stuart

    DId CNN even notice that they are printing a rant a an anti-nuclear activist? Of course he is going to present a fear laced story fraught with "the sky is falling' view on nuclear. Fuel pools spontaneously erupting into fire? Fukushima was an unfortunate accident, but not one person has died from any radiation released from this event. Compare that to the 20,000 that died from the actual tsunami or the 15,000 or so per year that die prematurely from respiratory ailments produced by burning fossil fuels. Mycle Schneider is just trying to create panic and much ado about something that poses very little risk when put into perspective.

    August 31, 2013 at 1:28 pm | Reply
  23. darrinwalkupy

    For once, I find myself agreeing with the author of a CNN article. An international team is very necessary. A huge collaborative effort that puts business and politics aside is essential. I'm pretty sure we've forgotten how to do that.

    August 31, 2013 at 1:29 pm | Reply
  24. kevin3g

    Appalling ignorance or worse. Everyone in my acquaintance realized this would continue to be a major clusterfuk back when the nuke plant went into multiple meltdowns when it was destroyed by the wave. The mass media just tiptoed around the facts and buried the story for years in order to please their masters in the nuke power industry and it's subsidiary, the thoroughly corrupt and illegitimate American theft regime.

    August 31, 2013 at 1:37 pm | Reply
  25. ChemE

    Reblogged this on Dark Matters a Lot and commented:
    A disaster that gets worse for everyone

    August 31, 2013 at 1:41 pm | Reply
  26. poosawoosa

    I didn't read all the comments. The article and all the comments I did read miss the most important point. Sure. The radiatin leaks so far are not good news. A bigger story is the plan to remove 1300 fuel rods from reactor #3 starting as soon as November. This is an extremely hazardous undertaking. But apparently doing nothing is even more hazardous, for a variety of reasons we can only speculate about (corroding fuel rod cladding etc). One false move during that process could set off an uncontrollable chain of events. Wish them well. It could get messy. Sooner rather than later.

    August 31, 2013 at 1:47 pm | Reply
  27. Honest Citizen

    Its not worse than anyone with an ounce of intelligence thinks. But it is far worse than the governement wants you to know. The same with the Gulf oil spill.

    August 31, 2013 at 1:53 pm | Reply
  28. Jj

    Mycle Schneider wrote like a typical consultant looking for a fee.. The sky is falling and only a group of experts can save us.. BTW here's my card.. Call me@!

    August 31, 2013 at 1:54 pm | Reply
  29. Sean Kurnow

    I am confident that they will gain control of the situation, however, one thing that troubles me is (god forbid) another earthquake or other natural disaster such as a typhoon that overwhelms or damages the stop gap measures they currently have in place.......the situation is precarious indeed.

    August 31, 2013 at 1:56 pm | Reply
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