Matsumura posted a startling entry on his blog following a statement made by Japan’s former ambassador to Switzerland, Mitsuhei Murata, on the situation at Fukushima.
Speaking at a public hearing of the Budgetary Committee of the House of Councilors on March 22, 2012, Murata warned that “if the crippled building of reactor unit 4 – with 1,535 fuel rods in the spent fuel pool 100 feet (30 meters) above the ground – collapses, not only will it cause a shutdown of all six reactors but will also affect the common spent fuel pool containing 6,375 fuel rods, located some 50 meters from reactor 4,” writes Matsumura.
In both cases the radioactive rods are not protected by a containment vessel; dangerously, they are open to the air. This would certainly cause a global catastrophe like we have never before experienced. He stressed that the responsibility of Japan to the rest of the world is immeasurable. Such a catastrophe would affect us all for centuries. Ambassador Murata informed us that the total numbers of the spent fuel rods at the Fukushima Daiichi site excluding the rods in the pressure vessel is 11,421.
Matsumura then asked Robert Alvarez, former Senior Policy Adviser to the Secretary and Deputy Assistant Secretary for National Security and the Environment at the U.S. Department of Energy, about the the impact of such an additional catastrophe at Fukushima.
Containing radiation at the crippled facility will be not small feat, Alvarez explained. “Spent reactor fuel cannot be simply lifted into the air by a crane as if it were routine cargo. In order to prevent severe radiation exposures, fires and possible explosions, it must be transferred at all times in water and heavily shielded structures into dry casks,” Alvarez told Matsumura.
He then said the 11,138 spent fuel assemblies stored at the Fukushima plant contain “134 million curies is Cesium-137 — roughly 85 times the amount of Cs-137 released at the Chernobyl accident as estimated by the U.S. National Council on Radiation Protection.”
“It is important for the public to understand that reactors that have been operating for decades, such as those at the Fukushima-Dai-Ichi site have generated some of the largest concentrations of radioactivity on the planet,” he concluded.
Matsumura admits this is an astounding number and one difficult to comprehend. He wrote that 85 times more Cesium-137 than released at Chernobyl “would destroy the world environment and our civilization. This is not rocket science, nor does it connect to the pugilistic debate over nuclear power plants. This is an issue of human survival.”
Akio Matsumura sent a letter United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “It is no exaggeration to say that the fate of Japan and the whole world depends on NO.4 reactor. This is confirmed by most reliable experts like Dr. Arnie Gundersen or Dr. Fumiaki Koide,” he wrote to Ki-Moon. “The world has been made so fragile and vulnerable. The role of the United Nations is increasingly vital. I wish you the best of luck in your noble mission.”
No word yet if this situation even registers on the United Nations’ radar screen.