– Fukushima melt-down worse than Chernobyl (Voice of Russia, May 24, 2011):
The situation at the quake-hit Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan appears to have fit into the worst predicted scenario. Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), which operates Fukushima, has officially admitted that fuel rods at the Fukushima reactors have partially melted, with a melt-down registered at one of the reactors. Remarkably, the announcement came on Tuesday when IAEA delegations arrived in Japan to inspect the power plant.
IAEA experts arrived in Japan on Tuesday to find out how the plant had been managed before the disaster and what measures were taken by the authorities to do the cleanup.
Fukushima-1 was seriously damaged by the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami that hit the north-western Japan on the 11th of March. The quake cut off power, while the massive tsunami sent the cooling system at the reactors into crisis. Radiation leaks were registered at the Fukushima, causing evacuations of homes inside the 30-km exclusion zone. Increased levels of radioactive iodine and cesium were found in sea water and in air nearby.
TEPCO promised that the situation would improve within 6-9 months, while radiation levels would drop to normal in three months. However, in late April Japan`s Nuclear Safety Commission raised the nuclear threat level at Fukushima up to the highest seventh level. This level previously only applied to the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. This month TEPCO officials started revealing all data about the crippled Fukushima power plant.
Certainly, in the first hours after the tragedy happened the operators were too shocked to unveil any details to the public. However, things did not get clearer with time. Deputy Director at the Russian Institute for Nuclear Engineering, Chernobyl clean-up worker Igor Ostretsov commented on the situation in an interview with the VOR…
“The Fukushima disaster has proved that nuclear industry should be controlled only by the state and not by private companies. The outcome of this tragedy has turned even worse than it was in Chernobyl. Graphite which was part of the reactor`s core, burnt out and vanished in the atmosphere. But at Fukushima the reactor`s core melted.”
Now that TEPCO is going to allow IAEA experts access to all information concerning the disaster, the agency`s commission might decide on what should be done to boost nuclear safety standards not only in Japan but worldwide. IAEA is expected to present its report in June. Meanwhile, nuclear safety will be high on agenda at the G8 summit in Deauville, France, on 26-27 May. According to the Russian presidential aide Arkady Dvorkovich, the G8 leaders won`t come up with a separate declaration on the Fukushima disaster but will discuss the issue in every detail.