Some nuclear experts say Tepco, still reeling from international criticism of its inability to stem massive leaks of contaminated water into the Pacific ocean, is deliberately playing down the risks.
“A task like this has never been done before, and obviously it is extremely dangerous,” said Charles Perrow, an emeritus professor at Yale University.
“I would be reassured if experts from other nations were allowed to inspect the site, make recommendations and observe the process. Or better yet, do the work. Rather than damage the nation’s pride, it would increase other nations’ confidence in the ability of Tepco to handle the job.”
Shaun Burnie, a nuclear consultant, said Tepco had “clearly demonstrated its inability” to manage the cleanup.
“Does that mean they cannot be trusted to remove the fuel from Fukushima?” he asked. “That’s irrelevant. They are going to remove the fuel and therefore the question is whether their plan is the best option without risk.
“They have to remove the fuel as early as possible – the risk from major structural failure leading to pool collapse is a greater threat than leaving the fuel in situ.
“The probability that the operation will go wrong in some way given the unique challenges and Tepco’s track record must be considered a real risk.”
Shaun Burnie has worked on nuclear power and energy for more than 25 years. He has worked for Greenpeace International for 20 years as a campaigner and head of policy, and is currently a consultant to the organisation. He has worked at the United Nations in New York, Geneva and Vienna on nuclear safety and proliferation issues, and lobbied governments in Asia, the Middle East, North and Central America, and Europe. His specialist area is the nuclear fuel cycle in East Asia having worked in the region for 20 years. As head of nuclear campaigns at Greenpeace International and as a consultant he has worked on nuclear power and climate policy, including critical analysis of the Clean Development Mechanism and the Sectoral Approaches in the post-2012 Kyoto framework. Â He has written over 100 papers on nuclear issues during the past quarter century, including for the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Japan Focus, and Asia online. He has Masters in War Studies from King’s College London. He lives with his family in the west of Scotland.
He’s not really a nuclear consultant, is he? He’s an anti-nuclear campaigner and appears to have been one all his working life.
So well done to the Guardian for uncovering those sources then. And why didn’t they actually bother to ask a nuclear engineer?