Fallout researcher Christina Consolo told RT that the removal of 1,300 fuel rods from the disabled Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, could result in a disaster.
The situation poses a monumental challenge to TEPCO, the Tokyo company contracted to do the clean-up. There are 400 tons of the rods stored in a pool inside of reactor number 4. They must be removed manually from the top of the reactor which has an environment filled with high radioactivity.
Consolo, who is the founder of ‘Nuked Radio’ says that the slightest mishap with a single rod could cause an above ground meltdown with disastrous results and no way to control it. The end result could be millions of deaths.
But she points out that maintaining the status quo could have the same results.
“Although fuel rod removal happens on a daily basis at the 430+ nuclear sites around the world, it is a very delicate procedure even under the best of circumstances. What makes fuel removal at Fukushima so dangerous and complex is that it will be attempted on a fuel pool whose integrity has been severely compromised. However, it must be attempted as Reactor 4 has the most significant problems structurally, and this pool is on the top floor of the building,” said Consolo.
Other problems have increased the difficulty of the process. The racks which hold the rods were damaged in the explosion. There is no way to know how damaged the walls of the pool may be, or to what extent the rods may be corroded until they are removed. In addition, the cranes formerly used to lift the rods were destroyed when the plant exploded after the tsunami.
Each rod must be removed individually by a team of humans, who will be working in an extremely dangerous environment. Mishandling of a single rod could cause a chain reaction between all 1,300, creating a nuclear accident that could not be stopped.
Reactor number 4 is sinking. There have been attempts to remove the ground water inside the structure which in itself is radioactive and is contaminating the ocean and the shoreline.
When Consolo was asked what the most serious complication could be, she said: “The most serious complication would be anything that leads to a nuclear chain reaction. And as outlined above, there are many different ways this could occur. In a fuel pool containing damaged rods and racks, it could potentially start up on its own at anytime. TEPCO has been incredibly lucky that this hasn’t happened so far.”
She says that this clean-up process is far more difficult than Chernobyl or when Fukushima originally suffered its damage in 2011. The problems have been exacerbated because of ‘temporary fixes’ over the past two years.
She further says that this job will be the most difficult and the most important ever attempted by men.
It is simple to understand why Fukushima is a looming nuclear disaster.