May 6, 2015

The Worsening Situation in Fukushima

Mitsuhei Murata
Former Japanese Ambassador to Switzerland


Since early April, a soaring level of radiation has been reported in some parts of Fukushima. The weekly magazine “Playboy” (dated May 4, 2015) carried a shocking four-page article with photos and such subtitles as: “Melting out of nuclear fuel”; “Horrors of critical chain reactions at the depths of the earth”; “Steam gushing out of Unit 3”; and “Rising of the temperature of the spent fuel pool water at Unit 2”.

This article alarms us by pointing out that the Japan Atomic Energy Agency has detected materials that suggest re-criticality at Fukushima Daiichi. It also tells us that, since the beginning of this year, we notice an increase in the amount of Cesium 134 and tritium that show the recurrence of a nuclear fission reaction.

The article warns us that if critical chain reactions at the depths of the earth happen to the debris of Fukushima Daiichi, the mass of which is extraordinarily voluminous, it will lead to a gigantic nuclear disaster of global scale.

On April 21th?Tepco announced that contaminated rain water had leaked into the sea due to the failure of the pumping system. The president of a subcontracting company contacted me to convey his anger over this incident, stressing the following points:

1.  The incident is attributed to power failure, but, instead of carrying out verification every three hours as required by the rules, nothing was done for 20 hours. This is totally unpardonable. It was a telephone call he received from a relevant fisherman that helped to discover the incident.

2. Tepco lacks qualified staff to work out a solution on the site. So many blunders committed by Tepco followed by repeated apologies justify the joke that Tepco had better produce apologizing robots.

3. In the new energy policy recently announced, the cost of nuclear power generation is presented as 10.1 yen/KW, a number universally considered as a huge lie. It mocks the whole population.

4. My plea for installing dust sampling gauges to cope with internal radiation problems made immediately after the 3/11 accident remains totally ignored.

Under such circumstances, I have established contact with authorities in Fukushima Prefecture. On April 22nd, they informed me that the instruments for measuring radioactivity (77 in all) were out of order and would be replaced in due course. They told me that they have stopped publishing the radioactivity-related numbers on the homepage of the Nuclear Regulatory Authority.

On May 6th, I asked them for their comments on the above-mentioned article in “ Playboy”. They do not deny the dangers pointed out by the article, but, unless they take concrete steps like removing the nuclear fuel, they think there will not be any increased dangers under present circumstances.

The foregoing should be regarded as a serious warning against an eventual severe nuclear accident. On individual, regional and national levels, serious efforts are needed to improve the situation.

The Tokyo Olympic Games give the false impression that Fukushima is under control. The fact is, however, that the situation in Fukushima is worsening. Japan is, alas, damaging the global environment with never-ending radioactive contamination.

Japan should devote maximum efforts to bring Fukushima under control, mobilizing human wisdom on the widest possible scale.


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