NucNet, “The Nuclear Communications Network,” citing the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum (JAIF), reports March 15 that following the explosions at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, “damage is suspected to unit 2’s inner or primary containment vessel (PCV).” Additionally, “spent fuel storage pool at unit 4 has been on fire with radioactivity being released directly into the atmosphere.” TEPCO apparently told JAIF that the fuel pond fire has now been extinguished. But wire reports indicate that the fire in reactor Number 4 is getting worse.
Get ready for a propaganda war over nuclear power’s future in the wake of the Fukushima disaster. From The Guardian:
The UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, has come under fire for its response to Japan’s nuclear crisis and its record in monitoring nuclear safety.
The scrutiny has focused on the agency’s secretary general, Yukiya Amano, a Japanese diplomat who got the job in 2009 after energetic lobbying by Tokyo. Amano and his team have been blamed for long delays in issuing updates on the disaster at Fukushima.
Nuclear officials argued that the fault lay not so much with the agency in Vienna as with its largely toothless mandate, which leaves it dependent on member states for voluntary compliance and control of information.
The fiercest criticism came from a former Soviet nuclear expert who helped organise the clean-up after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. Iouli Andreev said that corporations had deliberately ignored the lessons of Chernobyl in the pursuit of profit and had been abetted by the negligence of the agency.
“After Chernobyl, all the force of the nuclear industry was directed to hide this event, for not creating damage to their reputation. The Chernobyl experience was not studied properly because who has money for studying? Only industry. But industry doesn’t like it,” Andreev told Reuters news agency.
This history may now repeat itself, with hubristic crowing already heard about how the disaster actually proves nuclear power is safe (!!!) because the plants withstood the earthquake and tsunami without going into meltdown (yet). Of course, the disaster was sparked by a simple power loss—not by structural damage from the quake itself.
The New York Times reported March 13 that “several plant workers are ill from radioactive exposure,” while of course adding that “the radiation risk to the public appears low so far, experts said.” News accounts over the weekend of four workers killed indicated they were casualties of the explosions, not radiation exposure. The Sydney Morning Herald reports March 16 that two workers are missing among the “Fukushima 50” who remain at the plant (after more than 700 were evacuated over the weekend). It is unclear if these are among those now counted as dead.
See our last post on the nuclear crisis.