Nuclear Watchdogs Fear Fukushima Leak Is Getting Worse

Nuclear Watchdogs Fear Fukushima Leak Is Getting WorseA nuclear expert has told the BBC that he believes the current water leaks at Fukushima are much worse than the authorities have stated.

‘A good deal worse’

Mycle Schneider is an independent consultant who has previously advised the French and German governments. He says water is leaking out all over the site and there are no accurate figures for radiation levels. Meanwhile the chairman of Japan’s nuclear authority said that he feared there would be further leaks.

The ongoing problems at the Fukushima plant increased in recent days when the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) admitted that around 300 tonnes of highly radioactive water had leaked from a storage tank on the site. But some nuclear experts are concerned that the problem is a good deal worse than either Tepco or the Japanese government are willing to admit.

‘Leaches into the sea’

They are worried about the enormous quantities of water, used to cool the reactor cores, which are now being stored on site. Some 1,000 tanks have been built to hold the water. But these are believed to be at around 85% of their capacity and every day an extra 400 tonnes of water are being added.

Several scientists also raised concerns about the vulnerability of the huge amount of stored water on site to another earthquake. The storage problems are compounded by the ingress of ground water, running down from the surrounding hills. It mixes with radioactive water leaking out of the basements of the reactors and then some of it leaches into the sea, despite the best efforts of Tepco to stem the flow.

Do you think Fukushima’s radiation problem is actually worse than we know? In connection to this problem, should Tokyo’s Olympic bid be withdrawn?

Source: Matt McGrath | BBC News

Image: The Washington Post

TEPCO President Steps Down Over Nuclear Crisis

Earlier today, Masataka Shimizu, the president of Tokyo Electric Power Co., announced that he would be resigning from his position in the company. Shimizu said he had suffered disgrace after reporting record losses in company history, following one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters, after Chernobyl.  Fuel rods had melted at three if the power plant’s reactors after the infamous March 11 earthquakes.

Shimizu stated that he was resigning to take responsibility but he also vowed that the utility company would continue to do its best in trying to control the disaster in the plant at Fukushima Daiichi. Leaking radiation in the plant had forced thousands of locals to relocate and the struggle to contain the radiation is still ongoing. The clean-up and containment is expected to continue until next year.

“I am resigning for having shattered public trust about nuclear power, and for having caused so many problems and fears for the people,” said Shimizu to reporters while bowing in a traditional Japanese apology during his news conference. “I wanted to take managerial responsibility and bring a symbolic close,” he added.

The radiation crisis had raised questions about the management of Japan’s nuclear industry. It had also forced authorities to cancel plans of relying more on nuclear technology for the country’s electrical needs. The plan was to increase the dependence on nuclear technology by increasing nuclear supply to feed half of the country’s needs. As of now, nuclear power supplies a third of the country’s electrical needs.

Shimizu’s resignation was predicted because most heads of companies in Japan are expected to step down to take responsibility for even lesser faults and scandals. There were earlier calls for his resignation but he stated that he needed to stay with the company for a little more time to guide the containment and to push the crisis on the right track to recovery.

Shimizu was criticized earlier in the crisis because of his lack of visibility when problems about the plant first surfaced. He was then reported to be hospitalized, although details of his hospitalization were not given by the company. TEPCO was also being criticized for being unprepared for a tsunami despite signs of being prone to a hit. It was also later criticized for not being transparent about problems in the plant.

TEPCO reported losses that totaled 1.25 trillion yen, breaking the record for the biggest financial loss in Japan’s corporate world. Last fiscal year, the company had a profit of almost 134 billion yen.