Japan is finally admitting what various independent media, including this one, have been claiming since the beginning of the accident, Fukushima was and is far worse than Chernobyl. Three of the reactors experienced full meltdowns in the first few days of the crisis and the west coast of North America was blanketed in the fallout. Although little is being reported in the mainstream North American media, the accident is far from under control and the greatest fear now is the toppling of one of the reactor buildings spilling the pool of spent fuel rods.
Al Jazerra has compiled an indepth report gathering information from American and Japanese scientists and officials. Tepco stated meltdowns of the rods at reactors 1, 2 and 3, at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, occurred early in the crisis triggered by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
Americans recorded a 35% spike of infant mortality in eight Northwest cities; San Jose, Berkeley, San Francisco, Sacramento, Santa Cruz, Portland, Seattle, and Boise in the ten weeks immediately following the disaster.
Direct excerpts from AlJazerra;Some analysts said the delay in confirming the meltdowns at Fukushima suggested the utility feared touching off a panic by disclosing the severity of the accident earlier.
"Now people are used to the situation. Nothing is resolved, but normal business has resumed in places like Tokyo," Koichi Nakano, a political science professor at Tokyo's Sophia University, said.
Nakano said that by confirming the meltdowns now, Tepco (Tokyo Electric Power Company) may be hoping the news will have less impact. The word "meltdown" has such a strong connotation that when the situation was more uncertain more people would likely have fled Tokyo, he said.
"I am very sorry that the public is mistrustful of the various disclosures made by the government on the accident," said Prime Minister Naoto Kan.
Similar to BP’s President Tony Hayward’s resignation on July 27, 2010 after the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and the epic failure of the Corporation to first prepare for and prevent such a disaster and then misleading the general public by not disclosing early on the true extent of the crisis, Tepco announced its president, Masataka Shimizu, would step down.
"I wanted to take managerial responsibility and bring a symbolic close,'' he told reporters, bowing during the news conference. "We are doing our utmost to settle the crisis."Read to entire report here
. Extract below;Gundersen, a licensed reactor operator with 39 years of nuclear power engineering experience, managing and coordinating projects at 70 nuclear power plants around the US, says the Fukushima nuclear plant likely has more exposed reactor cores than commonly believed.
"Fukushima has three nuclear reactors exposed and four fuel cores exposed," he said, "You probably have the equivalent of 20 nuclear reactor cores because of the fuel cores, and they are all in desperate need of being cooled, and there is no means to cool them effectively."
"They are still emitting radioactive gases and an enormous amount of radioactive liquid," he said. "It will be at least a year before it stops boiling, and until it stops boiling, it's going to be cranking out radioactive steam and liquids."
Gundersen worries about more earthquake aftershocks, as well as how to cool two of the units.
"Unit four is the most dangerous, it could topple," he said. "After the earthquake in Sumatra there was an 8.6 [aftershock] about 90 days later, so we are not out of the woods yet. And you're at a point where, if that happens, there is no science for this, no one has ever imagined having hot nuclear fuel lying outside the fuel pool. They've not figured out how to cool units three and four."
Gundersen's assessment of solving this crisis is grim.
"Units one through three have nuclear waste on the floor, the melted core, that has plutonium in it, and that has to be removed from the environment for hundreds of thousands of years," he said. "Somehow, robotically, they will have to go in there and manage to put it in a container and store it for infinity, and that technology doesn't exist. Nobody knows how to pick up the molten core from the floor, there is no solution available now for picking that up from the floor."