AKIO MATSUMURA www.akiomatsumura.com - is a renowned diplomat who has dedicated his life to building bridges between government, business, and spiritual leaders in the cause of world peace. He is the founder and Secretary General of the Global Forum of Spiritual and Parliamentary Leaders on Human Survival with conferences held in Oxford, Moscow, Rio de Janeiro, Kyoto, and Konya.
One issue has stood apart from the rest since the first reports emerged on March 11, 2011: the 400 tons of spent fuel atop the damaged structure of Reactor No. 4. In the next month, TEPCO will transfer the 1,533 assemblies " bundles of uranium, plutonium, and other radioactive materials created when the original uranium was irradiated in the reactor " to a common spent fuel pool still on site. The transfer process is routine, but not without low-probability but high-consequence risk in normal circumstances. Worker or mechanical error could cause the robotic crane arm to drop a fuel assembly back into the pool, disrupting or damaging the still-submerged assemblies. In this case, TEPCO s transfer process is complicated by extreme circumstances: - A lack of information of the state of the assemblies inside the pool creates several unknowns. (Are the assemblies damaged? Have they moved inside the pool?). - A lack of a helpful computer system that normally automates the process, and thus necessitates manual control of custom equipment. - Workers and operators are already beleaguered by the stressful and demanding environment. According to the Nuclear Regulation Authority, there are 1,533 spent and unused fuel rod bundles in the cooling pool at the reactor unit 4 that contain radiation equivalent to 14,000 times the amount released in the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima in 1945. TEPCO claims they will finish the transfer of all 1,533 spent fuel assemblies by the end of 2014, but like that of Prime Minister Abe, the confident face put forth by TEPCO has a thin link to reality. We have and will continue to see dependence on technological solutions undermined by circumstance, error, and nature. A timeline of decades rather than months is more realistic. In the next forty years the region is due for another mega-earthquake and the eruption of Mt. Fuji is becoming more likely. The cleanup of Fukushima has become almost irrevocably polarized, seen as a referendum on nuclear power or political leadership. Political strategy has replaced common sense. But it is not the political leaders who bear any real risk. Their term limits relieve them of any public accountability. The nuclear accident at Fukushima will cost lives, now or in the future. Japan s current solution pushes off the problem to our descendants. Their other option is immediate emergency action. Just as the Soviet Union used hundreds of thousands of its military " its liquidators " to encase Chernobyl s Reactor No. 4 " resulting in an impossible-to-know number of deaths " Japan might send its military and engineering corps on a similar sacrificial mission. This is a unique and difficult moral issue. What does it mean to command your citizens into danger outside of a war? www.akiomatsumura.com
For the week of June 19 - 26, 2014