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Interfax.com  |  Interviews  |  Fukushima: confusion or secret work to create bomb?



Interviews


April 14, 2011

Fukushima: confusion or secret work to create bomb?


Alexander Kovalenko, who served as deputy director of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant and head of the department of information and international relations of the government commission for the liquidation of the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant disaster following the 1986 accident at the plant, said in an interview with Interfax Vyacheslav Terekhov what the large amounts of radioactive waste located at the Fukushima-1 nuclear plant may mean and whether the rumors that there could have been a secret military laboratory in the station could be grounded.

Question: How do you think the work at the Fukushima station is progressing and are there any real achievements in the neutralization of the consequences of the disaster?

Answer: It is very difficult to draw objective conclusions even now because the Japanese are persistently hiding information,. One thing is clear: in the month following the disaster, Japan failed to take any effective steps to prevent its consequences. The Japanese engineers are saying they have failed to restore the reactor cooling system at Fukushima-1. If the information disseminated by TEPCO after the accident is accurate to at least some extent, it can be said that there was no disaster until they created it.

Q.: Is there a chance of getting more-or-less truthful information regarding the scale of damage at the station and the nature of this damage? Will TEPCO continue to follow a "non-disclosure" policy?

A.: The scale of the damage caused by the seismic impact and the tsunami are absolutely unknown, or TEPCO is still hiding this information. Its quite possible that the main contour of the second reactor was damaged and meltdown began minutes after the earthquake. However, its an American project and such information would cost many corporations hundreds of billions of dollars, if not bankruptcy, and therefore it will be thoroughly hidden. By the way, The New York Times has reported, citing a member of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), that the damage to Reactor 2 at Fukushima could be more serious than was at first thought. The expert believes the excessively high level of radiation inside the containment vessel of the second unit indicates that molten nuclear fuel (so-called corium) has already melted the reactor core and gotten into the containment unit. Corium is extremely chemically and physically active, it can burn several meters of concrete a day and its content with water causes thermal explosions resulting in the release of highly radioactive particles. A TEPCO representative has flatly denied such a scenario, but an official within Japans Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) said it is a possibility.

Q.: Do you believe the expansion of the evacuation zone announced on April 12, which you predicted earlier, indicates a deterioration of the situation?

A.: To begin with, the Japanese authorities are not disclosing information regarding the initial damage and the impact of pumping of nitrogen on the emissions from the crippled reactors, which could have carried radioactive dust over large distances. TEPCO Spokesman Junichi Matsumoto said the consequences of this disaster could exceed those of the Chernobyl disaster and the INES Level 7 assigned to the Fukushima disaster indicates a powerful emission of radiation. This level was previously assigned only once - to the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. However, Matsumoto again declined to give details, including by how much the radiation level at the station has exceeded normal levels. NISA has published some information on the radiation levels, admitting that they exceed the highest acceptable levels within up to 60 km northwest of the Fukushima-1 station and up to 40 km southwest of Fukushima-1. The U.S. and Australian authorities have advised their citizens to remain 80 km from Fukushima-1, and experts from the European Committee on Radiation Risk believe that people who are even within 100 km from the station face health risks.

Some experts believe the pouring of seawater into the reactors and its subsequent uncontrolled release into the ocean raises a lot of questions. I am sure the Fukushima staff understood very well the need for urgent organization of an emergency cooling contour not envisioned by the project, like our sailors have done many times during accidents on nuclear submarines. However, as one blogger said in his Internet blog, "It takes Russians. The Japanese may go into a stupor without a project But there is no time for that."

Q.: It has now been reported that there are thousands of tones of radioactive waster at the Japanese nuclear power station. What could it mean? Has the station neglected its duties to process spent nuclear fuel?

A.: According to Rosatom, there are over 11,000 tonnes of radioactive waste at Fukushima. This means that nuclear waste has not been processed since the beginning of the stations operation, which would have saved 50 billion euro, although such processing is an absolute must under international regulations. In addition, we can assume that some of this waste is used to obtain materials for the production of nuclear weapons.

From the editor: The latter contention is supported by an article by Yoichi Shimatsu, former editor of the Japan Times Weekly, published in the U.S. media, stating that "confused and often conflicting reports out of Fukushima-1 nuclear plant cannot solely be the result of tsunami-caused breakdowns, bungling or miscommunication."

Quote from newamericamedia.org: A secret nuclear weapons program is a ghost in the machine, detectable only when the system of information control momentarily lapses or breaks down. A close look must be taken at the gap between the official account and unexpected events. TEPCO, Japans nuclear power operator, initially reported three reactors were operating at the time of the March 11 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Then a hydrogen explosion ripped Unit 3, run on plutonium-uranium mixed oxide (or MOX). Unit 6 immediately disappeared from the list of operational reactors, as highly lethal particles of plutonium billowed out of Unit 3. Plutonium is the stuff of smaller, more easily delivered warheads.

A fire ignited inside the damaged housing of the Unit 4 reactor, reportedly due to overheating of spent uranium fuel rods in a dry cooling pool. But the size of the fire indicates that this reactor was running hot for some purpose other than electricity generation. Its omission from the list of electricity-generating operations raises the question of whether Unit 4 was being used to enrich uranium, the first step of the process leading to extraction of weapons-grade fissionable material.

The bloom of irradiated seawater across the Pacific comprises another piece of the puzzle, because its underground source is untraceable (or, perhaps, unmentionable). The flooded labyrinth of pipes, where the bodies of two missing nuclear workers-never before disclosed to the press were found, could well contain the answer to the mystery: a lab that none dare name.

Q.: Are you as a professional inclined to trust the publications such as those published in the U.S. media?

A.: It think they are worthy of attention. This information appears reliable, especially after my conversation with a colleague who works for the IAEA in Vienna. He said Japanese officials behaved very strangely at the IAEA [which is led by Japanese official Yukiya Amano] last week, flatly declining to provide information on the true state of affairs, and they became even more persistent because they are associated with the Americans. As we know, the reactors are American. In my view, the world public should take the conclusions and statements made by the IAEA with a pinch of salt. In reality, virtually all IAEA officials previously worked in the nuclear industry. Its a "caste," and they will always defend its interests, even subconsciously, on a genetic level. The IAEA has always made cautious and optimistic declarations on all any nuclear events, especially after Hans Blix left the post of general director.

Epilogue

Ten years ago, Yuliy Andreyev, who took part in the Chernobyl events from the very start and later worked as a top official for Spetsatom (nuclear emergency service) for many years, said in his article entitled "Chernobyl and Corporations": "The status of IAEA has to be changed. This international organization consists solely of people associated with the nuclear industry, commercial and military. The IAEA is the unofficial headquarters of this elite. One and the same organization cannot promote the launch of new power plants and try to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons at the same time because it is virtually impossible to separate the military nuclear industry from the peaceful nuclear industry. Its utter schizophrenia."



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