The following is a letter by Mitsuhei Murata, former ambassador to Switzerland and executive director of the Japan Society for Global System and Ethics, published on solartopia.org on Aug. 23, 2014.
Fukushima constitutes a global security issue. Fukushima is out of control and the situation at the site is dangerously worsening. The Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Company(Tepco) have lost credibility both at home and abroad. Nearly 3 and half years after the Accident, Japan is at a loss how best to cope with the current situation. The crisis of Japan as a nation is being tackled with as a crisis of the management of Tepco!
The drastic change of the present faulty system is urgently needed by dint of powerful international cooperation. The time limit has been attained.
Global security issue
Fukushima has shown that the presence of nuclear reactors itself constitute a security problem, because, if the cooling system of the pool containing used fuel rods gets out of order for more than 3 days, a meltdown could start. This applies to more than 440 nuclear reactors in the world. There is no doubt that Fukushima constitutes a global security issue. Suffice it to say that we can only pray that no mega earthquake happens at the site to cause the collapse of the unit 4 reactor that could lead to a global catastrophe.
You will be surprised to know how precarious Japan’s future is, in view of the fatal defects of the current system under the leadership of the government and Tokyo Electric Company (TEPCO).
The basic nuclear law does not prescribe clearly where lies the responsibility of assuring the safety of the population. The restart of nuclear reactors is being delayed by the surfacing of this basic problem.
After the Accident, a new nuclear regulatory commission was created to secure its independence from the Ministries concerned. Recently, such rules as that of no return for the staff of the secretariat, are being neglected.
The members of the commission are no longer chosen from those having no prior link with electric companies. The Commission has publicly denied its responsibility as regards the safety of the residents. It is criticized by the public for concentrating its efforts to realize the restart of nuclear reactors. Under such circumstances, how can nuclear security be assured ?
There is no guarantee that another severe accident will not take place. The next one could be much more destructive. We should remember that, only 20 percent of Fukushima’s airborne radiation leases blew inland, while 80 percent streamed out to sea. If the wind had blown in the opposite direction, Tokyo would have been evacuated.
The problem of contaminated water
The problem of contaminated water has no solution in sight. The situation is worsening. Decommissioning the plant will be impossible until Tepco surmounts the contaminated water crisis. The plant’s water-treatment facility, which can remove all radioactive nuclides except tritium, has been suspended several times and remains problematic.
It has been confirmed that the recently completed bypass that reroutes clean groundwater directly into the Pacific, and underground wells does not contribute to reducing the flow of ground water into the sea.
The attempt to freeze the water in the trenches has been unsuccessful. The water inside the trenches isn’t freezing properly because it is circulating inside at higher speeds than the groundwater.
The groundwater bypass project to reduce the inflow of the groundwater into the reactors underground has not worked. The amount of the inflow of groundwater from the mountain side is so enormous. The groundwater is thus massively contaminated.
Reliable experts estimate that the daily inflow of contaminated water into the sea amounts to 1000 tons, of which 600 is groundwater. In addition to this, frequent torrential rain falls wash away into the sea radiogenic materials heavily accumulated at the site.
To make the matter worse, global warming seems to have brought about the climate change in Japan. Local downpours of rain causing landslides or mudslides are now so frequent. The latest typhoon has given rise to more than 90 victimes in Hiroshima. Enormous amount of rain washes away radioactive materials of numerous hot spots at the site into the sea.
A year ago, when Tepco removed the debris and rubble of the unit 3, the wind scattered radiogenic materials all around. According to Tepco, the amount of radiation amounted to 400 million becquerels. Some experts suspect the number is diminished by 10 times.
As it enters a critical phase of the Fukushima Daiichi clean-up, Tepco is contending with low morale among employees, about 3,000 of whom have quit or taken early retirement since the March 2011 disaster. Many have turned their back on nuclear power to take better-paid, less stressful jobs in other parts of the energy industry.
The serious problems of procuring workers and financial resources would be decisively affected by Tokyo Olympic Games that will mobilize a great deal of labor and funds.
Effects of Fukushima crossing the Pacific Ocean
Last January, a renowned peace pacifist sent me an article she had received from someone in California. It refers to a paper attributed to be a “Russian Ministry of Defense Report”. The following excerpt deserves serious attention.
“With experts now estimating that the wave of radiation from Fukushima will be 10-times bigger than all of the radiation from the entire world’s nuclear tests throughout history combined, and with new reports stating that dangerous radiation levels have been detected in snows found in Texas, Colorado and Missouri, this report warns the US, indeed, is going to face the severest consequences of this historic, and seemingly unstoppable, nuclear disaster. And not just to human beings either is this nuclear disaster unfolding either, this report grimly warns, but also to all biological systems as new reports coming from the United States western coastal areas are now detailing the mass deaths of seals, sea lions, polar bears, bald eagles, sea stars, turtles, king and sockeye salmon, herring, anchovies, and sardines due to Fukushima radiation.”
The report also points out that large amounts of fish, seaweeds, and everything in ocean has been already been polluted, and that these products are the main danger for mankind as they can end up being eaten by people on a massive scale.
What is stated above certainly needs serious verification. In this connection, a survey is being made by an American expert on the consequences of Fukushima being suffered by the West Coast of the United States. It is said that “NATURE” is to publish it next autumn. Its impact will be great.
This report further writes that two “low-level” underground atomic explosions occurred in the Fukushima disaster zone on 31 December, 2013, the first measuring 5.1 magnitude in intensity, followed by a smaller 3.6 magnitude explosion moments later.
When I read it, I just shivered. Fortunately, I could immediately clarify the situation, by contacting the responsible director of the relevant Ministry. It was earthquakes that had happened nearby, but not at the site, and that, on 31 December, no accident had taken place. If not, it would have been a too shocking news.
Japan is laboring under the consequences of the Accident never experienced by humanity. It is now obvious that Japan is seriously in need of an international help.
You can see how vulnerable is Tokyo Olympic Games, being prepared, ignoring the deteriorating situation at the Fukushima Daiichi.
New international system
A new international system is needed to minimize the consequences of nuclear accidents. Fukushima is revealing the limitations of a government facing a national crisis, its longevity being but of a few years. Nuclear accidents have shown the necessity of coping with their consequences quasi- permanently.
By dint of procrastination, the government of a country where a severe nuclear accident has broken out, could avert the crucial duty to make maximum efforts to cope with the accident by an operation of diversion with the collaboration of the media. I would like to urge the international community to take up this new problem. Since Fukushima is a global security issue, we need a new system to cope with it.
We need a special international system that that obliges governments to carry out certain prescribed duties. I would like to propose the following two minimum requirements.
1. To make maximum efforts to bring the consequences of the accident under control.
2. To concretize international cooperation to mobilize human wisdom on the widest possible scope.
It is the responsibility of the international community to prevent Fukushima from causing the ultimate global catastrophe. The Japanese current system of coping with the consequences of Fukushima is faulty and needs a drastic change. Japan is in need of international solidarity and powerful international cooperation. ”