Socialist Worker

‘There are many reactors in the area, many Chernobyls’

Issue No. 2243

A former nuclear power plant designer says Japan’s government is increasing the possibility of nuclear meltdown—and suppressing information about the scale of the crisis.

Masashi Goto said that reactors at Fukushima were suffering a build-up of pressure they were not designed to withstand. He said a meltdown was likely.

“There has not been enough information about the hydrogen being vented,” he told a news conference. “We don’t know how much was vented and how radioactive it was.”

Goto said the use of seawater to cool the reactor cores was highly dangerous. He added that because of the type of fuel used at Fukushima, the radioactive fallout could be twice as bad.

He said, “If the rods fall and mix with water, the result would be an explosion of solid material like a volcano spreading radioactive material.”

“Steam or a hydrogen explosion caused by the mix would spread radioactive waste more than 50 kilometres.

“There are many reactors in the area, so there would be many Chernobyls.”

Chernobyl was the world’s worst nuclear accident—so far.

The disaster happened in April 1986, when the number four nuclear reactor at the plant in Ukraine exploded.

It released 400 times more radioactive material than the US nuclear bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945.

More than 200 people were hospitalised immediately. Five million people across Russia, Ukraine and Belarus were exposed to radiation.

Millions still live in contaminated areas.

Many people died from radiation poisoning within weeks as they tried to put out the fire at the site.

Firefighters weren’t told of the dangers of radioactive materials.

Reports reviewing scientific studies into the disaster say that two million people are victims of the Chernobyl accident and at least 500,000 have died as a result.

More than 34,000 people who took part in the clean-up have died.

Their death rate due to cancer is three times that of the rest of the population.

It isn’t the only major nuclear disaster we have seen—and it won’t be the last.

The US saw its worst nuclear disaster in 1979.

Mechanical failures led to a partial core meltdown in one of the reactors at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station in Pennsylvania.

The Fukushima explosions are now worse than the Three Mile Island meltdown.

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Tue 15 Mar 2011, 18:46 GMT
Issue No. 2243
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